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Sep 27, 2022-2022


Iran Soccer Team Covers National Emblem



Iran's National Soccer Team


Iranian Government


Citizens have the right to protest.


Issue and Opponent: Mahsa Amini, who also went by the name Jina, was a 22-year-old woman from the western city of Saqqez in Iran’s Kurdistan province. Iranian morality police detained her outside a metro station in Tehran and took her into custody, with witnesses claiming that she was beaten while being transported to a detention center. Amini died in an Iranian hospital after spending three days in a coma. Officials have claimed that Amini was detained for breaking the Iranian law requiring women to cover their hair with a headscarf and their limbs with loose clothing. Iran’s mandatory hijab law, which went into effect in 1981 after the country’s Islamic Revolution, is selectively and often arbitrarily enforced. Amini’s death has sparked protests in Iran as women have been seen removing and burning their state-mandated headscarves, but other groups have used other forms of protest.
Dilemma Action: On September 27, 2022, players on the Iran national soccer team covered their country’s emblem during the national anthem before the tune-up match for the World Cup against Senegal. Before kick-off, the entire Iranian squad stood on the pitch wearing plain black jackets over their official uniforms. The group stood with their arms around one another and kept the extra layer on until they took the field for the start of the game. The game was played behind closed doors in an attempt to dissuade protests. The action from Iran’s players comes amid widespread demonstrations in the country following the death of Mahsa Amini. The action was viral on social media.
Outcome: None of the players or staff from Iran’s national team made statements regarding the situation to the media since the match, but several members of the team addressed the topic on social media. One of the payers acknowledged the risk he and his teammates took when they spoke out against the country. Other Iranian teams also made statements to support the protests for women’s rights in their country. During the Iranian team’s first match of the World Cup against England, the players refused to sing their national anthem in apparent support of the protestors in their country. The Iranian government threatened the players with retaliation if they did not sing the anthem in the second game of the World Cup against Wales.



Refusal of public support


Wearing of symbols



7 / 12

(MC) Media Coverage

(MSYMP) Media coverage was sympathetic to the activists

(OR) Opponent response

(PS) Dilemma action built sympathy with the public

(PUN) Punishment favored the activists

(REFR) Dilemma action reframed the narrative of the opponent

(SA) Dilemma action appealed to a broad segment of the public


1 / 3

Activist group continued working together after the action


Project documentation

Dilemma Actions Coding Guidebook

Case study documentation


CC BY 4.0 Deed, Attribution 4.0 International


Koons, Zach. 2022. “Iran Soccer Team Covers National Emblem Amid Countrywide Protests.” Sports Illustrated, September 27. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://www.si.com/soccer/2022/09/27/iran-soccer-players-cover-national-emblem-before-match-vs-senegal-protests-mahsa-amini

Hogan, Dominic. 2022. “Iran football team COVER national emblem to show solidarity with protestors following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody… as demonstrators surround the stadium to make their voices heard at friendly played behind closed doors.” Mail Online, September 28. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sportsnews/article-11260631/Iran-football-team-COVER-emblem-solidarity-protestors-following-death-Mahsa-Amini.html

Dye, Natasha. 2022. “Iran’s Soccer Team Covers Up Their National Emblem as Mahsa Amini Protests Continue.” People, September 29. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://people.com/sports/irans-soccer-team-hides-national-emblem-as-protests-continue-for-mahsa-amini/

Al Jazeera English. 2022. Instagram, November 9. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://www.instagram.com/tv/Ckvna0gMwol/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY%3D

Dye, Natasha. 2022. “Iran’s Soccer Team Refuses to Sing Their National Anthem at World Cup in Support of Protestors.” Peoples, November 21. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://people.com/sports/iran-soccer-team-refuse-sing-national-anthem-at-world-cup/

WION. 2022. “Iranian football team cover emblem in solidarity with protests over Mahsa Amini’s death.” YouTube, September 29. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAsrmfTdS-8

Fassihi, Farnaz and Cora Engelbrecht. 2022. “Tens of Thousands in Iran Mourn Mahsa Amini, Whose Death Set Off Protests.” The New York Times, October 26. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/26/world/middleeast/iran-protests-40-days.html

Szurc, Kinga. 2000. “Iran: Death of 22-Year-Old Mahsa Amini.” Warsaw Institute, October 3. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://warsawinstitute.org/iran-death-22-year-old-mahsa-amini/

Specter, Emma. 2022. “The Suspicious Death of Mahsa Amini Has Given Rise to Ongoing Protest in Iran and Beyond.” Vogue, October 11. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://www.vogue.com/article/mahsa-amini-death-iran-protests

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