AL RAYYAN, Qatar, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Iran’s national football team sang during the playing of their national anthem in their second World Cup match against Wales on Friday, after refraining from playing the to do in his opener earlier this week in an apparent show of support for the protesters. back home.
Loud boos were heard from Iranian fans as the anthem played, with the team singing softly as they played.
Iranian authorities have responded with lethal force to quell protests that marked one of the boldest challenges to its religious leaders since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Inside the stadium before the match, a number of supporters had shown their support for the protests.
A woman with dark red tears painted from her eyes held up a football shirt with “Mahsa Amini – 22” printed on the back – a reference to the 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman whose death while in the custody of Vice police two months sparked the nationwide protests, a Reuters photo showed.
A man standing next to her held a shirt printed with the words “WOMEN, LIFE, FREEDOM”, one of the protests’ main chants.
Ahead of the World Cup, protesters had been emboldened by apparent shows of support from a number of Iran’s national teams who refrained from singing the national anthem, such as the basketball team.
Team Melli, as the football team is known, has traditionally been a huge source of national pride in Iran, but they found themselves caught up in politics as the World Cup approached, with anticipation whether she would use football’s showpiece event as a platform to get behind the protesters.
Asked about the unrest at home on Thursday, Iran national team striker Mehdi Taremi said they were in Qatar to play football. “We are not under pressure,” he added after the players refused to sing the national anthem in their first World Cup game against England.
Before heading to Doha, the team met with hardline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Photos of the players with Raisi, one of them bowing to him, have gone viral and caused an uproar on social media.
Reporting by Martin Petty and Maya Gebeily; Written by Tom Perry; Editing by Toby Chopra
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