Iran’s parliament wants to invite the sports minister shortly before the World Cup

Iran’s parliament wants to invite the minister of sports a few days before the start of the world football championship in Qatar.

According to Tasnim news agency close to the government, several deputies are trying to force Minister Hamid Sajjadi to be invited in the next few days. So far, however, it has not been mentioned why Sajjadi should go to the parliament. According to observers, the background is the ever-growing solidarity of Iranian athletes against systemic critical demonstrations in the country and the violent repression of protesters by the security forces.

Symbolic protests include removing headscarves from Iranian athletes at national and international competitions, not singing the national anthem before games, and refusing to celebrate success. For weeks now, protests by athletes, and especially female athletes, have been far more important to most Iranian sports fans than athletic success.

Football players don’t sing the national anthem

These symbolic protests in front of a World Cup audience of millions can be particularly delicate for the Islamic system. Nine football players did not sing the national anthem during a friendly match against Nicaragua in Tehran on Thursday. The other two players in the starting line-up received harsh criticism from fans on social media.

Iran play in Group B with England, USA and Wales. According to human rights activists, at least 330 people were killed and 15,000 protesters were arrested during the two-month-long protests in Iran. There are no signs of an end to the unrest at this point, and observers believe it is unlikely.

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