Iran football team could be punished for not singing national anthem before World Cup thrashing
Iran's football team could face repercussions for not singing the national anthem during a World Cup opening game against England with one lawmaker saying the government should "never allow anyone to insult our anthem".
The act was an apparent show of support for anti-government protests in Iran, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September.
This is what courage looks like— Stefan Simanowitz (@StefSimanowitz) November 21, 2022
The Iranian football team refuses to sing the national anthem on biggest stage in the world
Eleven men, standing shoulder to shoulder, sending out a message without uttering a word#WorldCup #WorldCup2022 #Qatar2022 #Iran pic.twitter.com/n8gtQed4Fl
It whipped up a frenzy with hardline and conservative supporters of the government, which has launched a deadly crackdown on protesters.
Tehran city council's chairman Mehdi Chamran indicated on Tuesday that the team could face repercussions for not singing the anthem.
"We will never allow anyone to insult our anthem and flag. Iranian civilisation has a history of several thousand years, this civilisation is as old as the total of European and American civilisations," he said.
A conservative member of parliament from Kurdistan also criticised the team, saying that players should be replaced with those who would agree to sing Iran’s national anthem.
Earlier in the tournament, the captain of Team Melli - Iran's nickname - Ehsan Hajsafi acknowledge the widespread dissent at home, saying: "We are here but it does not mean we should not be their voice or we must not respect them.
"Whatever we have is from them. We have to fight. We have to perform and score some goals to present the brave people of Iran with a result. I hope conditions change as to the expectations of the people."
Several Iranian sports stars and celebrities have voiced their support for the protests in Iran, and have been punished by the Iranian government.
These include football legend Ali Daei, whose passport was seized by the authorities after he criticised the 'repression' against demonstrators protesting against the government.