Iran Threatened Families of National Soccer Team with ‘Violence and Torture’: Report
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According to a new report, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps threatened the families of players of the Iran soccer World Cup team with jail and torture if the players do not "behave" before their game against the United States on Tuesday.
A source told CNN that players have been called to meet members of the IRGC after the team failed to sing the country's national anthem in last week's opening game against England. The IRGC reportedly later warned that players who did not sing the national anthem or took part in political protests against the Iranian government would subject their families to "violence and torture" in retaliation.
The team sang the national anthem before the game against Wales on Friday.
"There are a large number of Iranian security officers in Qatar collecting information and monitoring the players," the source told CNN, adding that players are not allowed to meet with foreigners during the World Cup.
The Iran team's Portuguese coach Carlos Quieroz, who has reportedly met with IRGC officers separately, said players could protest the World Cup under FIFA regulations.
Widespread protests in Iran began on September 17 at the funeral of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested in Tehran by Iran's "morality police" for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely on September 13. She died three days later.
While Iranian officials said Amini died of a heart attack, her family said she was "severely beaten" while in detention. A lawyer for the family said "respectable doctors" believed she had been beaten while in custody. Her death has sparked weeks of protests across Iran, with some women burning their hijabs and publicly cutting their hair.
An Iranian general admitted for the first time on Monday that more than 300 people were killed in the protests.
The captain of the Iran men's national soccer team spoke out in support of the anti-government protests last week.
"I would like to offer my condolences to all the bereaved in Iran," Ehsan Hajsafi said at a press conference. "They should know that we are with them. And we support them. And we sympathize with them on the terms.”
"We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy," he added. "We're here, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be their voice or not respect them."
Meanwhile, Iran's state media have demanded that the United States be banned from the World Cup after the United States Football Association supported anti-government protesters by posting an edited version of the Iranian flag on its social media platforms. For 24 hours, the association hoisted the Iranian flag without the Islamic Republic's emblem to "show support for women in Iran fighting for basic human rights."
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