Families of Iran’s World Cup football team have been threatened with imprisonment and torture if the players fail to “behave” before the match against the United States on Tuesday, a match security source said.
Following the Iranian players’ refusal to sing the country’s national anthem in their opening match against England on November 21, the source said, the players were summoned to meet members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
The source said they were told their families would face “violence and torture” if they did not sing the national anthem or if they joined any political protest against the Tehran regime.
The players sang the national anthem before their second match against Wales last Friday, which Iran won 2-0.
The source, who closely monitors the Iranian security services operating in Qatar during the World Cup period, said that dozens of officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been recruited to monitor Iranian players who are not allowed to mix outside the team or meet with foreigners.
“There are a large number of Iranian security officers in Qatar who collect information and monitor the players,” the source said.
The source said that Carlos Queiroz, the Portuguese coach of the Iranian national team, met separately with Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers after their threats to Iranian players and their families.
The source did not mention the content of that alleged conversation. Queiroz said Iranian players could protest at the World Cup, but only within the framework of FIFA regulations.
The source said the players were promised “gifts and cars” before the England match, but the regime, the source claimed, turned to threatening the players and their families after the humiliation of the team’s refusal to sing their national anthem.
“In the last match against Wales, the system sent in hundreds of such supporting representatives in order to create a false sense of support and favoritism among the crowd. In the next match against the United States, the system plans to massively increase the number of representatives to thousands,” the source said.
Iran and the United States play each other on Tuesday in a crucial Group B match.
Iran appears in the World Cup under the shadow of internal turmoil. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, said the country is going through a “full-blown human rights crisis” as the authorities crack down on opponents of the regime.
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Protests have rocked Iran in recent months and threatened the country’s regime, which has ruled the country for more than 40 years.
The movement was sparked by the death of Mohsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being detained by Iran’s morality police, allegedly for not adhering to the country’s conservative dress code. Iranian security forces unleashed a violent response.
On Sunday, Iranian state media called for the United States to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup finals after the US Soccer Federation changed the Iranian flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.
The federation temporarily displayed the Iranian national flag on its official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. A now-deleted drawing of the Group B standings, published on Saturday, showed the Iranian flag sporting only its green, white and red colours.
US Soccer told CNN on Sunday that it wanted to change the official flag for 24 hours to show “support for women in Iran who are fighting for basic human rights” but always plans to return to the original flag.
US Soccer told CNN that the change “was a one-time fee.” “We have the main flag on our website and elsewhere.” The logo is currently back on the flag on USA Football’s social media channels.
A State Department spokesperson told CNN that it did not coordinate with the American football team on the sports body’s decision to change the Iranian flag on its social media accounts to show support for protesters in Iran.