Iran captain Ehsan Haisafi voiced out against the current situation in Iran before the opening match against England at the World Cup.
In recent months, Iran has seen a flurry of anti-government protests.
The 32-year old said that the players “support” those who have lost their battles, speaking to reporters before Monday’s game in Qatar.
He said, “We must accept that the circumstances in our country are not right” and that our people are unhappy.
Human rights activists claim that more than 400 protesters were killed and 16,800 people were detained in a crackdown led by the security forces.
Iran’s leaders claim that the protests were orchestrated by foreign enemies.
“Before any other, I would like to offer my condolences for all the families that have lost their loved ones in Iran,” Hajsafi, defender, said at the beginning of the news conference.
“They should know we are there for them, support them, and sympathize with them. ”
The AEK Athens fullback said that the conditions were not ideal and that they could not deny it.
We are here, but that does not mean we should ignore their voices or not respect them.
They have everything we have. We must fight, we must perform our best and score goals. Then, we must present the results to the Iranian bravest citizens.
“And I hope the conditions change to meet the expectations of people. ”
Campaigners called for Iran’s expulsion from the World Cup in the lead-up to it. They cited Iran’s military support for Russia’s invasion Ukraine, as well as human rights concerns including the treatment of women.
Analysis of ‘Extraordinary Comments’
Shaimaa Khalil, BBC News, Doha
These comments are exceptional – not because of what was said, but because of who said them and where they were said.
While it would be uncommon for a senior player in this tournament to speak out on matters political, his decision to support the Iranian protestors while acknowledging that people in Iran are unhappy is significant. These comments were made in Qatar, which is the World Cup host and an important ally of Iran.
Over the past few days, I have met many Iranian women in Doha. While some were openly and angrily critical of what was happening in Iran, others were more reserved. They all stated that they would not support the Iranian team as it was tied to the Iranian government.
This notion could be changed by what Hajsafi said this morning. It is not clear what his repercussions in Iran will be. He may be able claim that he was showing sympathy for the policemen who have died, instead of protestors.
However, this country has a history of oppression and the authorities have brutally reprimanded those who speak out.