Since their first match in 1941, the Iran national football team,[a] known by FIFA as IR Iran, has represented Iran in men’s international football. It is governed by the Islamic Republic of Iran Football Federation. FIFA has global control over the squad, and the AFC governs it in Asia. The Azadi Stadium in Tehran serves as the team’s home stadium.
Iran has won three Asian Cup tournaments at the continental level, in 1968, 1972, and 1976. The country’s finest Olympic result was reaching the quarterfinals at the 1976 Montreal Games. Iran has qualified for the FIFA World Cup six times (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018, and 2022), but has never advanced beyond the group stages; they have only won three matches: against the United States in 1998, Morocco in 2018, and Wales in 2022.
In 1920, the Iranian Football Federation was established.  Tehran XI (chosen players from Tehran Club, Toofan F.C., and Armenian Sports Club) journeyed over the border to Baku, USSR in 1926, marking the first time an Iranian side had played an away match. This Tehran Select team is Iran’s national football team’s forerunner.
Team Melli’s first match occurred on August 23, 1941, away at Kabul, in a 1-0 win against British India, while Iran’s first FIFA international match was on August 25, 1941, away at Afghanistan.
 Iran won the Asian Cup three times in a row (1968, 1972, 1976), a feat it has not repeated since.
Iran made their maiden World Cup debut in 1978, beating Australia in Tehran. Iran lost two of its three group stage games, to the Netherlands and Peru.  Team Melli surprised some in the footballing community by securing one point in its first World Cup appearance against Scotland, with Iraj Danaeifard canceling out an own goal by Andranik Eskandarian for a 1-1 draw. 
Following the Revolution
Football was somewhat ignored and tossed aside during the 1979 Revolution. Due to the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), the Iranian national team did not compete in World Cup tournaments throughout the 1980s, and local football accepted the unavoidable consequences of conflict. Because of the requirement to play on neutral ground, the national team withdrew from the Asian qualifiers for the 1982 World Cup and refused to participate in the qualifiers for the 1986 World Cup.
Because of the war and political changes, Iran did not have any significant club tournaments until 1989, when the Qods League was formed. The Qods League was renamed the Azadegan League a year later. Despite failing to qualify for both the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, it was claimed that a number of quality players burst onto the Iranian football scene during this period, laying the groundwork for third place in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup (victories in that tournament included a 3-0 victory over Saudi Arabia and a 6-2 victory over South Korea) and their second World Cup appearance in 1998. 
Iran qualified as group champions for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, with Team Melli being the best rated seed.  In Group C, Iran was pitted against Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Iranians defeated Bahrain 2-0 despite having the second highest number of fans in the tournament after hosts Australia.
 Iran then defeated Qatar 1-0 thanks to a Sardar Azmoun goal before defeating UAE by the same scoreline to finish first in their group.
Iran met Iraq in the quarter-finals, a team they had beaten in a friendly match just weeks before. Iran played with 10 men after receiving a dubious red card in the first half, scoring goals late in extra time to tie the match 3-3. Iran was defeated 7-6 in the subsequent penalty shootout.  
Iran began their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign in March 2015 with friendlies against Chile and Sweden.   Following that, Queiroz quit as manager due to conflicts with the Iranian Football Federation.  Iran was drawn in the second round of qualifiers with Oman, India, Turkmenistan, and Guam on April 14, 2015.  On April 26, Queiroz announced that he would remain as Iran’s manager for the 2018 World Cup.
Iran became the second team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after defeating Uzbekistan 2-0 at home on June 12, 2017.  They also took first place in their qualification group following South Korea’s loss to Qatar. 
Iran defeated Morocco in the opening match, thanks to an own goal by Aziz Bouhaddouz.  They subsequently lost to Spain on a Diego Costa goal, with video assistance referees refusing an Iranian equalizer.  Karim Ansarifard’s penalty in the third match against Portugal resulted in a tie.  As a result of Morocco’s 2-2 draw with Spain, Iran was eliminated.  Iran received the most points in any World Cup appearance, with four.
Iran was the highest-ranked team seeded in FIFA World Cup qualifying for 2022. Iran was put into the second round, where it would face two Arab countries, Iraq and Bahrain, as well as Cambodia and Hong Kong. Iran opened their campaign with a 2-0 home win over Hong Kong under new Belgian manager Marc Wilmots. Following Sahar Khodayari’s death, the 14-0 victory over Cambodia permitted chosen Iranian women to attend the stadium for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.  Their subsequent away matches against Bahrain and Iraq ended in defeats, with Iran losing 0-1 and 1-2, respectively.
Following two straight draws against Iraq and Bahrain, Iran faced the prospect of being eliminated from the World Cup in the second round, prompting the firing of Marc Wilmots. 
The COVID-19 pandemic in Iran forced the remaining fixtures to be played without spectators in June 2021, forcing Iran to play their remaining games in Bahrain under new coach Dragan Skoi; however, with Bahrain losing its home support as an advantage, and Iraq assured a place in the final phase, Iran was able to stage a comeback, occupying first place and progressing to the final phase alongside Iraq. 
Iran became the twelfth side to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup after defeating Iraq 1-0 at home on January 27, 2022. Iranian women will be barred from accessing the stadium for a World Cup qualifier in March 2022.
Iran was the highest-ranked Asian squad at the outset of the World Cup in Qatar. However, Iran began its World Cup campaign with a nightmare, losing 2-6 to England in the first game, the biggest loss in Iran’s FIFA World Cup history.  The Iranian team made headlines in their first match against England after refusing to sing the national anthem in solidarity with the Mahsa Amini protests, with some Iranian supporters cheering against or boycotting their team as they felt the team was representing the government.
The Iranian players were filmed singing the national anthem before defeating Wales 2-0 in the following match, amidst boos and whistles from Iranian supporters during the playing of the national anthem, with some protestors having their pre-revolutionary Lion and Sun flags and Women, Life, Freedom banners snatched from them by pro-government fans and stadium security at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.