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World Cup 2022: Iran Players Remain Silent During National Anthem

    World Cup 2022: Iran Players Remain Silent During National Anthem
    Last updated: 1 week ago
    Image credit: AMA/Getty Images [via RT]

    Facts

    • Iran's national soccer players stood silent on Monday, as the country's national anthem played out around the Khalifa International Stadium before kickoff for Iran's World Cup opener against England. The match ended in a 6-2 victory for England. [1]
    • State television broadcaster IRIB TV3 reportedly stopped a live stream of the anthem when they identified the players' actions, cutting off the feed when the third successive player was failing to sing. [2]
    • On Sunday, Iran's national team captain Ehsan Hajsafi stated that "Team Melli" supports and sympathizes with protesters, amid criticism on social media that they were failing to show solidarity with nationwide demonstrations. [3]
    • They came under fire for meeting with Pres. Ebrahim Raisi before heading to Qatar, but they did previously express support for protesters by wearing black jackets in a friendly against Senegal shortly after nationwide unrest was sparked by Mahsa Amini's death in custody in September. [4]
    • Political interference in soccer — a popular sport in Iran — has been regular in the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Top soccer players are expected to comply with authorities or at least remain silent on political matters. [5]
    • Meanwhile, in Iran, Hengaw rights group has reported that the Revolutionary Guards have escalated deadly crackdowns in Kurdish-populated cities. The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) has put the nationwide death toll from the protests at 419 civilians, also reporting that 54 security personnel have died so far. [6]
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    Spin

    Team Melli has suffered a crushing defeat against the intimidating English Team, but qualifying for the knockout stage remains possible. In order to achieve this goal, exclusive focus on on-field activities is needed, even though hostile Western media will keep trying to destabilize the team with mental games and political questions over the deadly foreign-backed riots that have caused tensions in Iran.

    Despite pro-government news outlets attempting to conceal this protest, the team's refusal to sing the national anthem sends a strong message to the world that the regime's deadly crackdown on protests lacks popular support. Opposition to authorities was only made clearer when the large Iranian crowd booed the anthem inside the stadium and Tehran residents celebrated England's goals by chanting "Death to the dictator."

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that Iran will cease to be an Islamic Republic by February 2036, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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