Iran’s national football team sang its national anthem in its second World Cup match against Wales after refraining from doing so in the tournament’s opening match.
The players did not sing the Iranian national anthem before their match with England in Doha earlier this week in apparent support of the protesters in their home country.
Boos were heard from some fans at Al Rayyan Stadium as the anthem was played before kick-off against Wales on Friday, as the team appeared to sing softly.
news agencies Reuters And the News agency He said there were reports of unrest both in Iran and outside Al-Rayyan stadium as government supporters confronted peaceful protesters.
And inside the stadium before the match, a number of fans showed their support for the protests.
A woman with dark red tears from her eyes held aloft a soccer jersey with “Mahsa Amini – 22” printed on the back – a reference to the 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who died while in the custody of the morality police for two months that had previously sparked protests across the country.
A man standing next to her was holding a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Woman, Life, Freedom,” one of the main chants of the protests.
Another supporter raised an Iranian flag with the phrase “God is great” written in black lines on it, while a security man stood nearby, apparently pointing at him.
Sky Sports News They spoke to other demonstrators after the match and they told us that their bags, flags and shirts were confiscated, and that there were officials loyal to the Iranian regime inside the stadium trying to intimidate them.
Iranian authorities have responded with deadly force to quell the protests, which have posed one of the boldest challenges to their clerical rulers since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Amini died after being arrested by the morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s dress code around head coverings.
On Thursday, prominent Kurdish soccer player, Furiya Ghafouri, was arrested in Iran.
Iranian state media reported that Ghafouri was arrested on charges of “insulting the national team and spreading propaganda against the government”.
Ghafouri is a former Iran international who was expected to be included in Iran’s World Cup squad. The 35-year-old spoke about the ongoing protests in Iran and the country’s ban on women attending football matches.
He was arrested after a training session with his club Foolad Khuzestan.
Ahead of the World Cup, protesters had been comforted by apparent offers of support from a number of Iran’s national teams that, like the basketball team, have refrained from singing the national anthem.
Team Melli, as the football team is known, has traditionally been a great source of national pride in Iran, but they have found themselves caught up in politics in the run-up to the World Cup, with speculation over whether they will use the footballing great event as a platform to get behind the protesters.
When asked on Thursday about the turmoil in his country, Mehdi Taremi, the Iranian national team striker, 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 match against England.
Before traveling to Doha, the team met Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi. Pictures of the players with Raisi, one of them bowing in front of him, went viral and sparked outrage on social media.