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