The Iranian national soccer team refused to sing when their national anthem played before their World Cup match against England to show their support for the ongoing anti-government protests in their country.
Iran has been rocked by unprecedented protests since the death of 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini, who died after she was arrested by “morality police” for allegedly breaking the country’s mandatory hijab law.
Many fans booed during the anthem, while others held up signs emblazoned with “Women, life and freedom” – the slogan associated with the movement.
Iranian fans in stadium could also be heard chanting “Ali Karimi”, the name of a former soccer player well known for speaking out against the Islamic Republic, as well as “Be-Sharaf”, which means “dishonorable” in Persian throughout the game.
In an interview before their first match, Iranian captain Ehsan Hajsafi spoke out in support of the protests.
“We have to accept the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy,” he said, according to the Guardian. “We are here but it does not mean we should not be their voice or we must not respect them.”
“Whatever we have is from them. We have to fight. We have to perform and score some goals to present the brave people of Iran with a result. I hope conditions change as to the expectations of the people,” he added.
The silent protest during the anthem was censored by Iranian state television, which cut to a previous wide shot of the stadium, according to the BBC.
At least 378 people have been killed, including 47 children, in the violent crackdown by Iran’s security forces as of Nov. 19, according to Iran Human Rights.
The match ended in a 6-2 victory for England.