Did Iran’s players sing the national anthem? What happened before World Cup match vs Wales, why did crowd boo

Iran’s national anthem was met with more booing and whistling ahead of Wales match
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As well as a thrilling 2-0 win against Wales, Iran’s national anthem controversy continued to make the headlines at full-time. Carlos Queiroz’s side sang the national anthem before kick-off, four days after staying silent in protests against the government.

Iran players refused to sing ahead of their World Cup opener against England earlier this week in a symbolic show of support for the protest movement since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September. However, reports had emerged that they could face punishment if they continued not to sing the national anthem in their remaining games.

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The threat to the national team was made clear when Iranian security forces arrested former international footballer Voria Ghafouri on Thursday for spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic, which was likely to be seen as a warning to the players. On Tuesday Mehdi Chamran, the chairman of Tehran city council, said: “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.”

Iran’s decision to sing the national anthem didn’t go down very well with the fans however, with the lack of protest being met by heavy booing and whistling inside the stadium, while some fans could be seen crying. This came after the crowd booed during the England clash, with some sporting T-shirts and signs that read: “Women, Life, Freedom”.

The Iranians continue to protest against their government after Amini was taken into custody two months ago by the ‘Morality Police’ after she allegedly failed to comply with the country’s strict hijab laws. No-one has yet been charged with killing Amini but the government have instead reportedly killed over 400 unarmed civilians and arrested more than 15,000 protesters.

The national football team aren’t the only athletes that have shown solidarity with their country’s protestors. Parmida Ghasemi, the Iranian archer, recently removed her hibaj during an awards ceremony in Tehran, though she later stated that this was in fact due to ‘wind and stress’. Another occasion saw Futsal player, Hashim Shir Ali, pay tribute to the Baluchi activist Khodanour Lajaei after scoring a goal by sitting with his arms extended as if they were locked around a pole (similar to Lajaei’s punishment by the Iranian police).

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It is unclear what will occur during the national anthem ahead of Iran’s final group match against USA next week, though for now the fans have something to celebrate after their dramatic victory over Wales. Team Melli dominated Rob Page’s side and were desperate to claim an important goal after Wales were reduced to ten men with only four minutes of normal time remaining.

However, the increased extra-time that we have seen across all World Cup matches came back to bite Wales, with Rouzbeh Chesmi and Ramin Rezaeian grabbing two goals in two minutes in the dying embers of the match. After defeat to England, this win puts Iran straight back into contention for progressing through to the knockout stages. If USA fail to beat the Three Lions tonight then Iran could confirm second place in Group B by avoiding defeat to the Americans on Tuesday evening.

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