The World Cup is underway in Qatar, and one of the big stories was the actions of the Iranian team.  It had nothing to do with their performance in their game against England; they lost that game 6-2, but they showed great heroics for what they did when their national anthem was played. 

The team stood in a line, arms around each other before the game, and instead of singing the words to their national anthem, they stared straight ahead with stern looks. 

This contradicts what the team recently did, singing loudly to their anthem at the World Cup in 2018 and the Asian Cup in 2020. 

The situation in Iran is horrible, with protestors being abducted, and many were hoping the soccer team could represent the oppressed people of Iran and bring awareness to the severity of what’s happening in their country. 

The team captain, Ehsan Hajsafi, took the mantle of becoming the latest high-profile Iranian to support the protestors. 

Here’s what he told reporters after the game.

“We have to accept that the situation in our country is not good and that our people are not happy; they are discontent. We are here, but it does not mean we should not be their voice or that we should not respect them. Whatever we have is theirs. We have to perform the best we can and score goals and dedicate those goals to the people of Iran who are feeling hurt.”

This is a very bold and heroic move by the captain. Recently, several prominent Iranians have been arrested for showing public support for the protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in September, who was arrested for allegedly breaking the very strict dress code. 

Iran’s protests are considered some of the biggest since the Islamic Republic was founded in 1979.  A group called Iran Human Rights said 342 people had been killed as police cracked down on protests, including 43 children and 26 women. 

The Iranian team will play next against Wales on Friday.

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