Iran undecided over singing national anthem ahead of World Cup 2022 opener vs England

Iran undecided over singing national anthem ahead of World Cup 2022 opener vs England

Iran captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh has refused to confirm whether his side will sing the national anthem ahead of Monday’s match against England.

The team head into the tournament amid a backdrop of mass protests against the regime at home, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September, after she was arrested for allegedly wearing her headscarf inappropriately.

Iran’s players have previously shown support for the demonstrations, covering the country’s symbols with black jackets during a friendly this year, while some have chosen to not celebrate goals.

Iranian national sides in other sports have refused to sing the national anthem at recent events, and while Jahanbakhsh (above) said the team have discussed the issue, he did not confirm what, if any, protest they have planned.

“Celebrations are something very personal,” he said. “Every player has different celebrations. And you ask about the national anthem. That is also something that has to be decided in the team. But everybody is only thinking and talking about football.”

The former Brighton player also accused the English media of playing “mental games” after being asked how events at home had impacted Iran’s preparation.

“I’m not sure if England weren’t in our group you would have come with this question,” he said. “This was all the headlines as we get closer to the World Cup.”