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Iran players were booed by supporters as they sang the national anthem before their World Cup fixture with Wales on Friday morning. The country’s stars stood in silence before their tournament opener against England earlier this week to support a native protest movement surrounding the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. 

There were huge question marks over whether Iran would continue their national anthem protest on Friday, as they did against the Three Lions. Mahsa Amini’s death in September, following an arrest for failing to comply with the country’s hijab rules, sparked grief and anger in the country, bringing protestors out onto the streets. 

The Iranian national team had previously drawn criticism from those protesting for bowing in front of President Ebrahim Raisi before heading off to Qatar. They responded by staying silent while their national song was played on Monday, but under pressure from politicians, they backtracked on the protest before kick-off against Wales. 

Amid a chorus of boos from their own supporters in the stands at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Iran’s players gave a relatively muted rendition of the anthem. 

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Iran boss Carlos Queiroz, meanwhile, struck out at those booing the national team as part of the effort to protest injustice. “I have to tell those who do not want to support the national team that it is better to stay at home, no one needs them,” he said in a press conference this week. 

Many Iran supporters cheered England’s handsome 6-2 victory on Monday and chanted ‘Death to the dictator‘ during the match. Team Melli were well beaten by the Three Lions to get their Group B campaign underway in Qatar, with Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham playing starring roles for Gareth Southgate’s side. 

Porto striker and Iranian talisman Mehdi Taremi did restore some confidence for the underdogs, however, with a well-taken finish past Jordan Pickford and a penalty deep into second-half stoppage time. 

Queiroz’s side went into Monday’s clash with Wales needing at least a point to prevent being the first team to be officially eliminated from the tournament. The Dragons were in need of points of their own after drawing 1-1 with the USA earlier in the week.