The families of Iran’s World Cup soccer team have been threatened with handcuffs and torture if the players fail to perform before the match against the USA on Tuesday, a source involved in the security of the games said.
Following the Iranian players’ refusal to play the national anthem in an open match against England on November 21, they said the players were summoned to a meeting with members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
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 government.
The players sang the anthem before their second game in Wales last Friday, which saw them win 2-0 over Iran.
A source who is closely monitoring Iran’s security agencies working in Qatar over the World Cup period said dozens of officers from the IRGC have been deployed to monitor players who are not allowed to mix with Iranians outside the team or with foreigners.
“There are a large number of Iranian security officials in Qatar gathering information and monitoring the players,” the source said.
Carlos Queiroz, the Portuguese coach of Iran’s national team, said separately that the IRGC officials are following up on their threats to Iranian players and their families.
Hence he did not say what was the subject of that alleged conversation. Queiroz said Iranian players could protest at the World Cup, but only within FIFA regulations.
The players, the source said, had been promised “gifts and cars” before the English game, but the government, the source alleged, was threatening players and their families after the humiliation of the team’s refusal to sing the national anthem.
“In the last game against Wales, the government sent hundreds of these supporters to create a false sense of popularity and popularity among the supporters. For the next game against the US, the government plans to significantly increase the number of players in the thousands,” the source said.
Iran and the US play each other on Tuesday in a crucial B match.
Iran appears in this World Cup under the shadow of domestic unrest. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Chief Volker Turk said the country is in a full-blown human rights crisis as authorities clamp down on anti-government dissidents.
For the third month, Iran has been facing deadly crackdowns on government protests
Protests, hailed by experts as the most important since the establishment of clerical rule following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, have rocked Iran in recent months and threatened the country’s government, which has been in power for more than 40 years.
The movement was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 20-year-old woman who was detained after Iran’s morality police allegedly failed to abide by the country’s conservative dress code. Iranian security forces have a violent response.
On Sunday, Iranian state media demanded that the US kick off the 2022 World Cup after the United States Soccer Federation changed its flag on its social media platforms to show support for the protesters in Iran.
The federation has temporarily displayed Iran’s national flag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, without the Islamic Republic’s logo. A now-deleted graphic posted by Group B on Saturday shows the Iranian flag carrying only its own colors of green, white and red.
US News told CNN on Sunday that it wanted to change the official flag for 24 hours to show “support for women in Iran fighting for basic human rights,” but always planned to return to the original flag.
The change “was a one-time graphic,” US News told CNN. “We have the main flag in our place and other places.” The insignia is now running across the US Soccer’s flagship social media channels.
A spokesman for the State Department said that CNN did not coordinate with the US soccer body’s decision to change Iran’s flag on social media accounts to show support for the protesters in Iran.