Team Melli players show support for Iranian protestors

In a sign of support of mass demonstrations across Iran after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody while she was being detained by morality police for breaking the country’s strict Islamic dress code, Iranian players wore jackets to cover up the country's badge on their uniforms when they lined up before Tuesday's 1-1 friendly match with Senegal in Modling, Austria.

Team Melli played two games in Austria -- it beat Uruguay 1-0 in its first game -- to mark Carlos Queiroz's return as national team coach. It will afec England, Wales and the USA in Qatar

The player protest came two days after Bayer Leverkusen forward Sardar Azmoun expressed support with the demonstrators, saying in a statement posted from his hotel room on Istagram: “Because of the national team rules, we couldn’t say anything until the [World Cup training] camp was over. But I couldn’t bear it anymore. 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."

Azmoun, whose post was later taken down, scored the Iran goal against Senegal.

Ali Karimi, who was known as the "Asian Maradona" and now lives in Dubai, lent his support to the protesters and called on the army not to allow “innocent blood to be shed.” Dozens of protestors have reportedly been killed.

Iranian fans from across the Gulf are expected support Team Melli in Qatar.

Photo: Imago/GEPA

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