Iran National Anthem Booed by Own Fans, Video Shows

Iranian fans booed and jeered their own national anthem, while their soccer team apparently refused to sing the words, as the players prepared to embark on their first World Cup match on Monday.

The spontaneous action was widely seen as the athletes and fans showing solidarity with the widespread protests erupting across the country back home.

The team was about to play England at the Khalifa International Stadium during the contest taking place in Qatar.

German journalist Natalie Amiri, who has covered Iran for the TV channel Das Erste, shared the footage on Twitter. A translation of her words read: "And not a single one of the Iranian national team just sang. A statement, silent but clear, for the revolution on the streets of #Iran."

While footage filmed from the stands, shared by The Guardian newspaper's chief sports reporter Sean Ingle, also showed the vocal dissent. "Loud whistling from Iran fans for their own national anthem, many of whom are protesting against their regime," he captioned his clip.

The country has been rocked by demonstrations, which were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested and jailed for not wearing a hijab. Harsh "morality" laws state women's hair must be covered by the headscarf whenever they are in public.

Amini was allegedly beaten and tortured before her death on September 16, although Iranian officials claim she died of a heart attack. Her death sparked widespread protests, with many women removing their hijabs in public, some of whom burned them in a symbolic gesture against oppression.

The unprecedented protests have seen many men joining women on the streets to demonstrate against the regime.

Although there have been protests against the authorities before in Iran, the sheer scale of the current demonstrations and the different genders and classes of those taking part makes the current unrest different to any that have come before. But the regime has responded with brute force.

Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group, has said at least 234 people, including 29 children, have been killed by security forces by the end of October.

Earlier this month, it was reported some 15,000 people had been arrested, who could potentially all face jail time or even the death penalty. Iran Human Rights warned that "at least 20 protesters are currently facing charges punishable by death per official reports."

It's not the first time sport has become embroiled in the controversies unfolding in Iran.

In October, fears were raised for Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi who competed overseas without a hijab covering her hair. TV footage of Rekabi fearlessly scaling a rockwall with her hair simply tied back in a ponytail went viral.

Rekabi, who was competing in the Asian Championships in Seoul, South Korea, was widely reported to have gone "missing" after the incident. Reports emerged that she had been flown home to Iran by authorities, sparking fears that officials planned to throw her behind bars at the notorious Evin prison.

Her fate remains unclear, but it has been reported that she was forced to make a confession and is now being kept under house arrest.

Newsweek has reached out to Iranian authorities and soccer officials at FIFA for comment about the apparent World Cup protest.

England won the Group B game against Iran 6-2 and take on the United States on Friday.

The World Cup competition itself has been mired in scandal over fury at Qatar's record on human rights.

Iran national anthem booed by own fans
Audible boos and whistles could be heard from Iran fans as the team stayed silent during the national anthem at the World Cup. Getty