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Iran's soccer team boycotts national anthem at World Cup amid protests back home

The men's soccer team of Iran stood silent during their country's national anthem at the World Cup on Monday, seemingly in support of those protesting against the Iranian government back home. 

"We have to accept that the situation in our country is not good and that our people are not happy, they are discontent," team captain Ehsan Hajsafi said at a press conference. "We are here, but it does not mean we should not be their voice or that we should not respect them. Whatever we have is theirs."

Protests have been raging in Iran since September, when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested and then died in police custody after allegedly breaking the country's strict hijab law for women.

And in concurrent acts of in-stadium defiance, some Iranian fans brought with them on Monday the flag of Persia — which looks similar to Iran's but is viewed as a "symbol of protest" — while others opted to sing the Persian national anthem instead of their own, writes The New York Times. There were even fans wearing jerseys adorned with the names of female protesters killed by Iranian authorities, per The Associated Press.

Iran ultimately lost its match against England 6-2.

But the anthem abstinence wasn't the only controversy of the day: seven European teams also announced Monday that their captains would not be wearing armbands in support of the LGBTQ community after FIFA threatened to issue yellow cards for doing so.