Iran players at World Cup speak out in support of protests at home

    Syria v Iran - 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
    Sardar Azmoun is one of the star players in the Iran team (Picture: Getty Images)

    As protests against the ruling regime in Iran continue, some of the country’s star footballers have spoken in support of their people while they prepare to play in the World Cup in Qatar.

    The death of Mahsa Amini in custody of Iranian morality policy sparked weeks of protests, which have seen hundreds of deaths and thousands of imprisonments.

    There were question marks over whether Iran would be able to compete in the World Cup as a result, but they get their campaign underway against England on Monday afternoon.

    It will be an emotional time for the Iranian players, some of whom have bravely spoken in support of the protesters at home, knowing that it comes with a risk.

    Bayer Leverkusen striker Sardar Azmoun posted on Instagram: ‘At worst I’ll be dismissed from the national team. No problem. I’d sacrifice that for one hair on the heads of Iranian women.

    ‘This story will not be deleted. They can do whatever they want. Shame on you for killing so easily; long live Iranian women.’

    Ehsan Hajsafi, the AEK Athens defender who has 121 caps for Iran, said at a press conference in Qatar: ‘They should know that we are with them. And we support them. And we sympathise with them regarding the conditions.

    ‘We have to accept the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy. We are here but it does not mean we should not be their voice or we should not respect them.’

    Ehsan Hajsafi took his opportunity to speak out at a press conference in Qatar (Picture: Getty Images)

    Iranian superstar Ali Daei, who scored 109 goals for his country in a stunning international career from 1993-2006, posted on Instagram: ‘My homeland Iran means: my family, my father and mother, my daughters and fellow countrymen are my brothers and sisters, I will surely stay with them forever.

    ‘Instead of repression, violence and arresting the Iranian people, solve their problems.’

    MORE : Why Harry Kane could get a yellow card for wearing OneLove armband at Qatar World Cup

    MORE : James Maddison and Kyle Walker to sit out of England’s first World cup match against Iran

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