Iran has received criticism and threats from its government after it refused to sing the national anthem at the opening match of the World Cup
In addition to the thrilling 2-0 win over Wales, controversy over Iran’s national anthem has continued to grab headlines throughout. Carlos Queiroz’s team sang the national anthem before kick-off, after four days of silence in protests against the government.
Iran’s players refused to sing before the opening World Cup match against England earlier this week in a symbolic show of support for the protest movement since the death of 22-year-old Mohsa Amini in September. However, reports emerged that they could face punishment if they continued not to sing the national anthem in their remaining matches.
The threat to the national team came to the fore when Iranian security forces arrested former international soccer playerawria Ghafouri on Thursday for spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic, which was likely seen as a warning to the players. Mehdi Chamran, head of the Tehran City Council, said on Tuesday: “We will not allow anyone to insult our anthem and flag. Iranian civilization has a history of several thousand years, this civilization is as old as the sum of European and American civilizations.”
But Iran’s decision to sing the national anthem did not sit well with the fans, as the lack of protest was met with boos and whistles inside the stadium, while some fans were seen crying. This came after fans were booed during the England match, with some sporting T-shirts and banners reading: “Women, Life,reedom”.
Iranians continue to protest against their government after Amini was detained by the “morality police” two months ago after she allegedly failed to comply with the country’s strict hijab laws. No one was charged with killing Amini, but instead the government killed more than 400 unarmed civilians and arrested more than 15,000 protesters.
The national soccer team wasn’t the only athletes showing solidarity with the protesters in their country. Parmida Ghasemi, an Iranian archer, recently removed her hijab during an award ceremony in Tehran, although she later stated that this was actually due to “wind and pressure”. On another occasion, futsal player Hashem Sher Ali honored Baloch activist Khodanour Lajei after scoring a goal by sitting with his arms outstretched as if they were trapped around a pole (similar to the punishment for Lajii by the Iranian police).
It is not clear what will happen during the national anthem ahead of Iran’s final group match against the United States next week, although fans now have something to celebrate after their dramatic win over Wales. Millie’s side dominated Rob Page’s side and were desperate to score an important goal after Wales were reduced to ten men with just four minutes of normal time remaining.
However, the increasing extra time we’ve seen in all World Cup matches has come back to hit Wales, with Rosbeh Chesme and Ramin Rezaian scoring in two minutes in the dying embers of the match. After the defeat against England, this win put Iran directly back into the competition to advance to the knockout stages. If the United States fails to overcome the Three Lions tonight, Iran can confirm the second place in Group B by avoiding defeat against the Americans on Tuesday night.