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Iran threatened families of World Cup football team, security source says




CNN

The families of Iran’s World Cup soccer team have been threatened with imprisonment and torture if the players don’t ‘behave’ ahead of the game against the United States on Tuesday, a source involved in security has said. matches.

Following the Iranian players’ refusal to sing the country’s national anthem in their opening game against England on November 21, the source said the players were summoned to a meeting with members of the Guardian Corps of Iranian Revolution (IRGC).

The source said they were told their families would be exposed to “violence and torture” if they did not sing the national anthem or join a political protest against the regime in Tehran.

The players sang the anthem ahead of their second match against Wales last Friday, which saw Iran win 2-0.

The source, who closely monitors Iranian security agencies operating in Qatar during the World Cup period, said dozens of IRGC officers have been recruited to monitor Iranian players who are not allowed to meddle. outside the team or meeting strangers.

“There are a large number of Iranian security agents in Qatar who collect information and monitor players,” the source said.

Carlos Queiroz, the Portuguese coach of the Iranian national team, met separately with IRGC officers following their threats against Iranian players and their families, the source said.

The source did not specify the content of this alleged conversation. Queiroz said Iranian players can protest at the World Cup, but only within FIFA regulations.

The players, the source said, had been promised ‘gifts and cars’ ahead of the England game, but the regime, the source said, moved on to threatening the players and their families after the humiliation of the the team’s refusal to sing its national anthem.

“In the last game against Wales, the regime sent in hundreds of these actor supporters in order to create a false sense of support and favor among the fans. For the next game against the United States, the regime plans to dramatically increase the number of players by the thousands,” the source said.

Iran and the United States face off in a crucial Group B game on Tuesday.

Iran appears at this World Cup under the shadow of internal unrest. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, said the country was going through a “full-fledged human rights crisis” as authorities cracked down on anti-regime dissidents.

Inside Iran’s Third Month of Protests as Regime Steps Up Deadly Crackdown

The protests, described by experts as the largest since the establishment of clerical rule after the 1979 Iranian revolution, have rocked Iran in recent months and threatened the country’s regime, which has been in power for more than 40 years.

The movement was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being detained by Iran’s morality police, allegedly for failing to adhere to the country’s conservative dress code. Iranian security forces unleashed a violent response.

Iranian state media on Sunday called for the expulsion of the United States from the 2022 World Cup after the United States Soccer Federation changed the Iranian flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran. .

The federation had temporarily displayed the Iranian national flag on its official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts without the Islamic Republic emblem. A now-deleted Group B chart published on Saturday showed the Iranian flag wearing only its green, white and red colors.

US Soccer told CNN on Sunday 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 still planned to return to the original flag.

The change “was a unique graphic,” US Soccer told CNN. “We have the main flag on our website and other places.” The emblem is currently back on the flag on US Soccer’s social media channels.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN it did not coordinate with US Soccer in the sports body’s decision to change the Iranian flag on its social media accounts to show support for the protesters. in Iran.

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