(NBC News) — Iran’s national men’s soccer team refused to sing the country’s national anthem at the World Cup in Qatar on Monday, in an apparent act of defiance against their government, which has become the target of growing and incendiary protests.

The team stood in a line with arms around one another’s shoulders, before their opening match against England, but instead of singing the words, as is traditional, the players looked stony-faced and stared straight ahead.

England’s players, by contrast, sang a verse of their national anthem.

The moment was not shown on state TV in Iran.

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