Because the Iranian national team did not sing the anthem, the regime in Tehran is now threatening the players with “violence and torture” from their families.
The Iranian national soccer team is not only under sporting but also political pressure at the World Cup. While protests against the regime raged in Iran, the Iranian soccer players refused to sing along to the anthem in their opening game. In the meantime, the government in Tehran is said to be blackmailing them, reports the American news channel CNN, citing a source responsible for the security of the World Cup.
Following the Iranian soccer team’s refusal to sing the national anthem before their opening game against England, the players were called to meet members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the source told CNN.
Iranian players’ families have been threatened with imprisonment and torture if the players fail to “behave” ahead of Tuesday’s game against the United States. Specifically, the CNN whistleblower said players were told their families would face “violence and torture” if they did not sing the national anthem or join a political protest against the Tehran regime.
The players sang the anthem before their second game against Wales last Friday, which Iran won 2-0.
There are also strict measures for the Iranian team: They would be closely monitored by Iranian IRGC officers and were not allowed to meet with foreigners or have contacts outside of the squad.
Carlos Queiroz, the Portugal coach of the Iran national team, met separately with IRGC officials after they threatened the players and their families, according to CNN. The content of this conversation is unknown.
The team sang in the game against Wales, but the anthem was drowned out by boos from the Iranian fans. The Iranian government also wants to do something about this, the CNN source said. In the previous games, for example, there were hundreds of “act supporters”, but for the game against the USA Tehran plans to “increase the number of actors to thousands”.
Iran and the United States meet in a crucial Group B match on Tuesday.