Doha, Qatar (CNN) — Before the ball was kicked off in Iran’s first World Cup game against England, the Iranian players made a powerful statement.
In what appeared to be a show of solidarity with the protesters in their country, the players stood silent as the Iranian national anthem was played at the Khalifa International Stadium before kick-off.
Protests, chaos and violence have rocked Iran in recent months, threatening the very nature of the country’s regime, which has been in power for more than 40 years.
The protests, described by experts as the largest since the establishment of the clerical regime after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, were triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being detained by the police in the Iranian morality, allegedly for failing to respect the country’s conservative dress code. Iranian security forces have responded violently to the demonstrations.
Before the tournament began, Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said the players could protest while they competed in Qatar.
Monday’s silent show of respect was met with a loud reaction from Iranian fans, many of whom cheered throughout. It is not clear if it was in support of the players.