Iran players sing national anthem while fans jeer before Wales World Cup match

Iran’s players sing the national anthem  (Getty Images)
Iran’s players sing the national anthem (Getty Images)

Iran’s football players sang their national anthem before facing Wales at the World Cup on Friday - after refusing to sign the anthem in their opening match against England earlier this week.

Iran’s fans booed and jeered the national anthem but unlike against England, the team’s players did not stay silent and sang the words of the anthem.

The initial protest against England was a significant act of defiance and unity with anti-government protesters following weeks of violent protests in Iran, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in September.

While the players sang the anthem before their match against Wales, the TV coverage of the match showed pictures of distraught Iran fans in the crowd at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar.

Iran striker Mehdi Taremi said before the team’s second World Cup match that players were under no pressure from the government to sing the anthem, following their protest against England.

“I said before that I will not answer such questions, but I will answer this time,” Taremi said on the eve of the Wales match.

“We are not under pressure. In a football tournament, football journalists must be respected and everything that has nothing to do with football must be left aside.”

Before kick-off, there were reports of Iran fans having signs displaying “Woman, Life, Freedom” - the slogan of the country’s protest movement - confiscated by police officers at the stadium.

There were also reports of pro-government fans harassing anti-government fans outside the stadium in Qatar.

According to the Associated Press, small mobs of men angrily chanted "The Islamic Republic of Iran" at women giving interviews about the protests to foreign media.

Many female fans were visibly shaken as Iranian government supporters surrounded them with national flags and filmed them on their phones.

Shouting matches erupted outside the security checkpoint at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium between fans screaming "Women, Life, Freedom" and others shouting back "The Islamic Republic."

Includes reporting from AP