On a hectic day at the World Cup the Iran players’ gesture contrasted sharply with meek end to OneLove protest
England have never enjoyed an opening World Cup match like this. Six goals, and a performance soaked in exuberance and enticing possibilities, laid down an early marker for the next four weeks in Qatar. Yet this game will surely be remembered for something else entirely: the remarkable sight of Iran’s players refusing to sing the national anthem in a gesture of solidarity with oppressed women and protestors back home.
As the anthem rang out across the Khalifa International Stadium, Iran’s players pursed lips, bowed heads and locked shoulders. Their 1,000-yard stares told you something else too: that they, and their families, may soon pay a heavy price. And yet they carried on. The defiant, and the damned. A TV camera cut to an Iranian woman in the stands. She was crying.