England’s World Cup challenge got off to a strong start after the Three Lions eased past Iran in their opening Group B fixture in Doha, but the game was notable for what took place beforehand, as the Iranian team decided not to sing their national anthem.
A brace from Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka, added to one each from Raheem Sterling, Jude Bellingham, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish was enough for England to claim a 6-2 win and set a marker ahead of upcoming challenges against Wales and the United States.
Iran managed a riposte from their talisman, Medhi Taremi, who also added a late penalty.
Despite an entertaining clash on the pitch, World Cup organizers Qatar and FIFA were faced with further criticism after an apparent error involving a ticket app led to a bottleneck outside Khalifa International Stadium, which reportedly delayed entry to large numbers of fans.
And those who were in the stadium prior to the start of the game also saw another notable incident, when Iran opted against singing their country’s national anthem in advance of the kick-off, in what many will see as support for the protests taking place in the country.
The Islamic nation has faced demonstrations within the country since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while in police custody in September after allegedly breaking morality rules.
An autopsy later determined that Amini did not die due to physical violence, but from cerebral hypoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain, according to a coroner’s report. Her death was caused by a pre-existing condition, the document said, specifying that Amini had underlying conditions stemming from surgery on a benign brain tumor she had undergone when she was eight.
In advance of the game, Iranian star Alireza Jahanbakhsh said that his team would collectively decide whether or not to sing the anthem.
Iran’s next Group B fixture comes early on Friday against Wales, while England take on the United States in their second game later that day.
Iran captain criticizes English media before World Cup clash
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