Iran national team covers team emblem during countrywide protests

Iran protests

A fan of Iran protests against recent incidents in the country during the national team’s match against Senegal in Austria. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

The players of Iran’s national soccer team wore all-black jackets to hide their country’s colors on Tuesday ahead of a friendly match against Senegal to protest of the repression of women in their home country.

An Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, 22, died while in the custody of the country’s “morality police” last week after she was arrested for allegedly breaking Iran’s strict dress code for women.

In response to her death and the reports that Amini was brutally tortured while in the police force’s custody, men and women of Iran have taken to the streets to protest her treatment, and the overall repression of women in the Islamic country.

In the subsequent days, Iranian police forces have clashed with citizens in the streets, resulting in hundreds of arrests, and a death toll of close to 50 people from both sides of the protest, according to officials.

Back on the soccer pitch, Iran national team players wore all-black jackets over their uniforms ahead their friendly match with Senegal in Austria. The effort to cover their country’s colors was to join their voices with the protesters back home.

Sardar Azmoun, who plays his club soccer for Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen, posted a comment on Instagram to show his solidarity with the protests. The post read, “The ultimate [punishment] is to be kicked out of the national team, which is a small price to pay for even a single strand of Iranian women’s hair. Shame on you for easily killing the people and viva women of Iran. Long live Iranian women!”

Azmoun later deleted the post for unknown reasons, but with many of the players sure to have family and friends back in Iran, they may fear for the safety of their loved ones if their actions are not taken well by the Iranian government.

The protests in the sporting world did not stop with the players. Sports Illustrated reported that two men were spotted holding a sign that stated that Amini was “murdered by the police of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” during the team’s previous friendly against Uruguay, also in Austria.

According to the report, the two men were removed from the stadium by local police after refusing to put down the sign.

It is still unknown if the protests could impact the team’s opportunity to go to Qatar in November to participate in the 2022 World Cup.

Should they take part in the tournament as expected, the Iranian’s will face an uphill battle to qualify for the knockout rounds after being drawn into tricky Group B with England, The United States of America, and Wales.