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Iran WC team opt not to sing anthem as mark of protest

Published : 21 Nov 2022 10:39 PM | Updated : 22 Nov 2022 04:19 PM

Before their opening World Cup match against England on Monday, Iran's national soccer team did not sing country's anthem in support of anti-government protesters in Iran, reported Reuters. Ahead of the clash, Iran's captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh said the team would decide "collectively" whether or not to refuse to sing the anthem in support of anti-government protesters in Iran.

Meanwhile, defender Ehsan Hajsafi cautiously aired his concern at a press conference on Sunday about the political crisis. 

"We have to accept the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy. We are here but it does not mean we should not be their voice. I hope conditions change as to the expectations of the people," he said, without directly mentioning the unrest.

Earlier in November, the national beach football team didn't sing the national anthem at the beginning of a match against the United Arab Emirates in Dubai, the Reuters' report mentioned. During the match, Saeed Piramoon after scoring a goal symbolically cut his hair on camera as a show of solidarity with the protestors in Iran.

However, the act of defiance has not gone unnoticed and in a statement, the Iranian Football Federation said those who do not follow professional and sports ethics "will be dealt with".

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei-led government is facing its biggest challenge since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in two months of protests over the death of Mahsa Amini.   

Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) has said that the Iranian authorities have responded to protests with a crackdown leaving at least 342 people dead. The group added that half a dozen have already been sentenced to death and thousands more have been arrested.  

Earlier, IHR claimed that protesters were killed in 22 of Iran's 31 provinces, including 123 in Sistan-Baluchistan and 32 in Amini's home province of Kurdistan, where violence flared in the town of Bukan overnight.  

Activists allege that Iran's security forces are carrying out secret burials of protesters they have killed, to prevent more violence that could flare up at their funerals.  

Earlier on Wednesday, 10 people including a woman, two children, and a security officer were killed in two separate attacks in the cities of Izeh and Isfahan, informed state media and a hospital source.  

According to AFP, Iran’s state news agency IRNA has earlier reported that two members of Iran's pro-government Basij paramilitary force were stabbed to death in the northeastern city of Mashhad while trying to intervene against "rioters".  

The 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an Iranian of Kurdish origin, died three days after her arrest in Tehran by the notorious morality police over an alleged breach of the Islamic republic's mandatory hijab law.  

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