Despite how the population feels about the sport, support for the national team has waned following the ongoing protests. In Iran, protestors have burned billboards supporting the team, and there was even an attempt by current and former Iranian athletes to have Iran barred from participation in the World Cup this year. The team representing Iran is aware of all of this, and Captain Ehsan Hajsafi has voiced sympathies for the protestors. “We have to accept that the situation in our country is not good and that our people are not happy, they are discontent," Hajsafi said during a press conference. "We are here, but it does not mean we should not be their voice or that we should not respect them. Whatever we have is theirs.”
The fact that the Iranian national team at this World Cup has voiced support for the protestors is significant given the international stage they are on. Though they ended up losing to England with a score of 6 to 2, the comments regarding the protestors might well earn them more support at home during the rest of the World Cup. As things stand, the activist group Iran Human Rights has reported that at least 378 people have been killed in the protests so far, with 47 of those being children.