Soccer players on the Iranian national team protested against their own government by refusing to sing along with the national anthem before their World Cup game on Monday.
The players stood silently as the anthem played and fans cheered loudly at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Protests erupted across Iran after a 22-year-old woman died in police detention when she was arrested for not adhering to the regime’s strict rules on women’s dress code. Protesters have publicly cut their hair and burned head coverings in memory of the woman.
The captain of the soccer team said that the players supported those Iranians who had died during the protests against the regime. More than 400 people have died protesting as state police have tried to crack down on the demonstrations.
Earlier in the month, the Iranian parliament voted overwhelmingly to recommend the death sentence for protesters. Human rights groups say more than 16,000 people have been arrested for protesting. At least six protesters have already been sentenced to death.
Some noted that the team was risking retaliation from the regime against them and their family members in Iran.
The government in Qatar has warned visitors to the World Cup that they will be subject to local laws if they try to bring their own values and customs to the games. Some have criticized the Muslim country for their hardline stance against homosexuality and drinking at the games. In response, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Europeans should be apologizing for what they did for 3,000 years across the globe.
Fans of the Iranian soccer team also protested against the regime outside the stadium with signs and statements.
England ended up with a 6-2 victory over Iran.
Here’s more about the protest:
Iran players remain silent during their national anthem at the World Cup