Tehran threatened the football players: Either you will sing the national anthem or your families will be in prison
Authorities have threatened the families of players on Iran's soccer team with prison and torture if the players do not "behave properly" ahead of today's game against the United States, according to CNN a source familiar with the situation.
Namely, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) called the footballers for a conversation after they refused to sing the national anthem in the first match against England on November 21. The source states that they were told at the meeting that their families would be imprisoned and tortured if they did not otherwise sing the national anthem or protest politically against the regime in Tehran.
The players sang the national anthem before their second game against Wales last Friday, which Iran won 2-0. The source, who closely monitors Iranian security agencies active in Qatar during the World Cup, said a dozen IRGC agents were monitoring the Iranian soccer players, who are not allowed to socialize outside the team or meet with foreign nationals. .
"There are a number of Iranian security officers in Qatar who are gathering information and monitoring the players," the source said, adding that Carlos Queiroz, the Portuguese coach of Iran's national team, had met with IRGC officers following their threats against Iranian players and their families.
The source did not say what the content of that conversation was. Namely, Queiroz said that Iranian players can protest at the World Cup, but only in accordance with FIFA rules. The players were promised expensive gifts and cars ahead of the England match, the source said, but the regime turned to threats after the team refused to sing the national anthem.
"In the last match against Wales, the authorities sent hundreds of fans to create a false sense of support among the fans. For the match against the US, the regime plans to significantly increase the number of such actors and send them in the thousands," the source said.
Iran and USA play today in the key match of Group B.