: Families of Iran’s soccer team threatened if players fail to ‘behave’ ahead of US World Cup game, report says


Amid ongoing anti-government protests in Iran, the families of the country’s soccer team have allegedly been threatened with imprisonment and torture if the players fail to “behave” in their pivotal World Cup match against the U.S. on Tuesday.

Citing a security source involved in the security of Iran’s World Cup games, CNN reports that the players were called to a meeting with members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp. after they refused to sing the national anthem before their opening World Cup game against England.

The source told CNN players were told their families would face “violence and torture” if they did not sing the Iranian national anthem or if they joined political protests against Iran.

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Iran has been rocked by mass protests against the Tehran regime sparked by the death on Sep. 16 of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while detained by the country’s morality police. Amini had been detained for allegedly wearing her headscarf too loosely.

Speaking at a press conference before Iran’s game against England, Iranian captain Ehsan Hajsafi expressed support for those who have lost loved ones in the country’s recent unrest. More than 300 people have died since the protests began.

Iran lost their opening game 6-2, before defeating Wales 2-0 in their second match. The country’s players sang the Iranian national anthem before the Wales game.

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A number of Iranian fans at the Qatar World Cup have used games to protest against the country’s regime, sparking angry stadium confrontations with pro-government fans.

The game is also being played amid tension between Iran and the U.S. Soccer Federation after Iran’s national flag was briefly displayed on USSF social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic.

The last World Cup clash between the two nations was at the 1998 World Cup in France and ended in a 2-1 win for Iran.

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The U.S., which is back in the World Cup after an eight-year absence, needs to beat Iran to reach the tournament’s knockout stage.

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