Watch: Iran team refuse to sing national anthem at World Cup
The entire Iranian team refused to sing the national anthem before their opening World Cup game against England in a powerful statement against the country’s regime.
As the players stood impassively, whistling and jeers could also be heard from Iran’s fans as the anthem played out at the Khalifa International Stadium, while one female fan was picked up by the cameras appearing to cry.
Iran’s opening World Cup match came as mass protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini continue in cities across Iran.
The unrest follows the death of the 22-year-old in September after she was detained by police in Tehran for allegedly not adhering to Iran’s strict Islamic dress code.
More than two months of nationwide protests are among the boldest challenges posed to Iran's clerical leaders since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The demonstrations have been further highlighted by the country's presence at the World Cup in Qatar.
According to Reuters, Iranian state television did not show the players lining up for the anthem before the match started in Doha.
On Sunday, Iran defender Ehsan Hajsafi became the first member of the national team to speak out at the World Cup in support of anti-government protests back in his home country.
"They should know that we are with them. And we support them. And we sympathise with them regarding the conditions," he told a news conference in Doha.
Ahead of the match, Iran captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh remained coy on whether the team would refuse to sing the anthem in a show of solidarity.
"Every single player has a different celebration and you ask about national anthem and that’s something that also has to be decided in the team, which we already talked about," he said.
"But we never made a big deal out of it, to be honest, because everybody is only thinking about football."
Watch: Chaotic scenes reported at World Cup fan zone