World Cup 2022: Iran’s Ehsan Hajsafi talks about the situation in his home country

Iranian defender Ehsan Hajsafi
Ehsan Hajsafi is the captain of the Iran national team

Iran captain Ehsan Hajsafi spoke out against the situation in his home country ahead of his nation’s World Cup opener against England.

Violent anti-government protests in Iran have been cracked down on in recent months.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Monday’s match in Qatar, the 32-year-old said the players “support” those who have died.

“We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy,” he said.

Human rights activists have said that more than 400 protesters have been killed and 16,800 others arrested in the crackdown by security forces.

Iran’s leaders say the protests are “riots” orchestrated by the country’s foreign enemies.

“Before anything else, I want to express my condolences to all the grieving families in Iran,” Hajsafi’s lawyer said at the start of the press conference.

“They should know that we are with them, we support them and we sympathize with them.”

“We cannot deny the conditions – the conditions in my country are not good and the players know it too,” added the AEK Athens defender.

“We’re here but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be their voice, or we can’t respect them.”

“Whatever we have is from them. We have to fight, we have to do as well as we can and score goals and present the results to the brave people of Iran.

“And I hope the situation will change according to people’s expectations.”

In the run-up to the tournament, there were calls for Iran to be kicked out of the World Cup, with campaigners citing the alleged country. military support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine and human rights issues including that treatment of women.

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