In an inspiring and brave show of support for protestors in their home country, Iranian soccer players refused to sing their nation’s national anthem before a match with England on Monday at the World Cup.
An extraordinary act of defiance by the Iranian men’s national soccer team at the #WorldCup2022.
When people anywhere take to the streets to demand a democratic future, the United States should be by their side. pic.twitter.com/Xc6Jwrcmhl
— Jonathan Franks (@jonfranks) November 21, 2022
As we have reported at BASEDPolitics, Iran has been swamped by uprisings against their brutal and inhumane regime over the past two months following a death of a young woman at the hands of their “morality” police. Youth have been at the forefront of the protest movement at great personal cost. Government actors have shot people in the streets, raided schools, and issued the death penalty, among other savage responses, in an attempt to make the people fall back in line.
While many celebrities have backed the cause in the country, this quiet rebuke from the Iranian soccer team is among the most public displays of support.
The decision seems to have been pre-planned as the team’s captain, Ehsan Hajsafi, gave a statement before the game offering condolences to the victims of the protests and said, “we are with them and sympathize with them.”
IMPORTANT 🇮🇷 Ahead of their game against England, Iran’s captain Ehsan Hajsafi becomes the first Iranian player to speak out in support of women’s rights protesters in his home country, expressing condolences to families who’ve lost loved ones.pic.twitter.com/iyOiZ9cikl
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) November 21, 2022
Hajsafi also said, “We are here but it does not mean that 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 the best we can and score goals, and present the brave people of Iran with the results. And I hope that the conditions change to the expectations of the people.”
Fans in the crowd joined them in the open rebuke of their government. Women, who are not allowed to attend such events in Iran, traveled to Qatar and many fans could be heard booing the anthem from the stands.
Protest banners and flags were also visible in the crowd, with some reading, “Woman. Life. Freedom.” And according to The New York Times, some fans were barred from entering the game for displaying the Persian flag rather than the Iranian one.
Iran fans with a message before their World Cup opener: pic.twitter.com/icJ8E250wN
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 21, 2022
What BeIN sport and Qatari media refuse to show;
Iran fans show support for the #MahsaAmini protests at their nation's match against England in #Qatar. Protest by Iranian fans – booing their regime's national anthem ahead of match against England. #IranProtests@nytimes @GBNEWS pic.twitter.com/QYSS8rMOs9
— Amjad Taha أمجد طه (@amjadt25) November 21, 2022
The risks these soccer players are undertaking in their stance can not be overstated. Such a public display on an international stage is sure to incur blowback from the murderous Iranian government. Again, they have already sentenced three people to death just for protesting on their home turf, others have been given lengthy sentences where torture awaits them in the country’s prisons.
For public figures to stand up against such a regime and risk the backlash requires real virtue, not virtue-signaling.
As always, we are standing in spirit with the people of Iran who are rising up against oppression and injustice. We applaud the men who are using their platforms to stand up for women’s rights. And we call on the US government to ensure America can always be a refuge for those who must flee these disgusting regimes for their own safety.
Power to the people.