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What will happen to the Iran World Cup team now?

EOne of the members of the Iranian football team refused to sing the national anthem of the Islamic Republic before the World Cup match against England. This subtle but effective act of defiance has been attributed to their support for anti-government protests in their home country. Now they are knocked out of the World Cup, what fate awaits them?

At a press conference before the match in Qatar, team captain Ehsan Haysafi expressed his solidarity with the protesters. “First of all, I would like to express my condolences to all the families of those killed in Iran,” he said. “They need to know that we are with them, we support them and sympathize with them.” He later added that: “We have to admit that the conditions in our country are wrong and our people are unhappy. We are here, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be their voice or respect them.”

Massive protests erupted in Iran in September following the arrest and subsequent death of 22-year-old Mahsa (Gina) Amini. She was taken into custody by the so-called vice police for allegedly breaking strict hijab laws. So far, no one has been charged with Amini’s murder. Instead, government crackdowns reportedly killed more than 400 unarmed civilians, including more than 50 children, and arrested more than 15,000 protesters.

The Parliament of the Islamic Republic overwhelmingly voted in favor of severe punishment of the protesters, calling the number of those arrested “mohareb(enemy of God). At least six defendants, all captured unarmed, have been sentenced to death. Others were sentenced to ten years or more in prison. But even with this brutal repression, the regime has not been able to contain the protests that continue to erupt in all 31 provinces of Iran.

By refusing to sing the Islamic anthem, Team Melli – the nickname of the Iranian football team – seems to have joined other athletes who are opposing the Islamic regime on the world stage. Over the past few months, several female athletes have shown their solidarity with the protesters by removing their hijabs while competing for the country. The latest of them, archer Parmida Ghasemi, took off her hijab during an awards ceremony in Tehran.

Even before the World Cup, male athletes were joining the protests. Football player Said Piramoon cut his hair after scoring a goal in the final of the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup in Cottage Beach in the United Arab Emirates. The haircut gesture has become an international symbol of support for Iranian women and those who demand change.

By scoring a goal in a futsal match, player Hashim Shir Ali paid tribute to the murdered Balochi activist Khodanur Lajai. sits with arms outstretched as if they were clasped around a pole. Original A photo The prisoner was reportedly released by the Iranian police to humiliate him. Instead, photography became another source of inspiration for those who joined the popular uprising.

Given these athletes’ acts of solidarity with the protesters, Team Melli drew heavy criticism for even planning to compete in Qatar. Sentiments became even more bitter after photos of them bowing to President Ebrahim Raisi at the send-off ceremony went viral.

As Iran played England, the crowd booed and jeered from the stands. Some were wearing T-shirts and placards reading “Woman, Life, Freedom”, which became the slogan of the Iranian protesters.

Iranian fans in the stands hold an Iranian flag with the words “Women’s Freedom of Life” during the match.


There was very little mention in Iran’s state-controlled media of the team’s refraining from playing the national anthem, or of Hajsafi’s remarks. They also continue to insist that the protesters are rioters and that these “riots” are orchestrated by the country’s enemies. In response to Team Melli’s silence during the performance of the anthem, Mehdi Chamran, chairman of the Tehran city council, said: “We will never allow anyone to insult our anthem and flag. Iranian civilization is several thousand years old. This civilization is as old as the sum of European and American civilizations.”

For some Iranians, the football team’s refusal to sing the anthem was “the least they could do”. Mohammad, a 22-year-old man from Balochistan, told me that he thought Iran’s presence at the World Cup normalized the brutal dictatorship, but, he added, “the failure to play the national anthem made the image of the Islamic Republic even more dishonorable.” than he already is in front of the international community.”

(Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Others applauded the team for their courage. Sepideh, a 24-year-old woman from Kurdistan, expressed concern about the pressure the regime might have put on the team: “Not singing the national anthem is a big deal. It shows that they were forced to play [in the World Cup]. Refusing to sing, they said they sympathized with the protesters.”

In the meantime, massacres continue to be reported, especially in ethnic minority regions such as Kurdistan, Balochistan and Khuzestan. Oil was added to the fire by the news of the murder of the youngest victim in Khuzestan, 10-year-old Kian Pirfalak. Qian’s mother initially blamed security forces for her son’s death, but later declined to comment in what turned out to be a forced TV interview. The boy’s father is still in the hospital with severe gunshot wounds.

In the province of Kurdistan, where Mahsa Amini was born, the regime recently shelled the cities of Piranshahr, Marivan and Javanrud. Unconfirmed Footage live shootout and since then the wounded have appeared from Javanrud. There are reports of several casualties, including a 16-year-old named Karvan Gader Shokri in Piranshehr. Another man was reportedly killed when Islamic Republic forces opened fire on the crowd as the teenager’s body was taken to the mosque.

In addition to using intimidation, arrests and deadly force to silence the opposition, the regime has imposed massive internet shutdowns.

The international community has widely supported the protesters and condemned the actions of the Iranian regime. French President Emmanuel Macron recently described the protests as a “revolution”. This week, the US imposed targeted sanctions against three Iranian officials in Kurdistan. situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Several athletes who defied the regime have officially apologized for not wearing the hijab, but it also feels like a forced renunciation. Because of this, some Iranians expressed concern for the players and their families. In a country of repression, forced confessions and apologies, the fate of Mellie’s team remains in the balance. What is certain is that their silence during the singing of the anthem has drawn even more attention to the plight of the Iranians on the ground.

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