Families of Iranian players allegedly threatened by the government

Iranian players sing the national anthem before the Qatar World Cup match.  Photo: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Iranian players sing the national anthem before the Qatar World Cup match. Photo: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

According to a person working on security at the games in Qatar, Iran’s players were forced to attend a meeting with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards after the team’s opening match at the World Cup, when they lost to England 6-2 Before the game, Iranians did not sing the national anthem, in clear support for demonstrators fighting in the country for more respect for women’s rights.

According to the source, the players would have been told that if they continued not to sing the anthem or engaged in other demonstrations against the country’s government, their family members could suffer “violence and torture”. Dozens of members of the Revolutionary Guard would be in Qatar monitoring the players, who would be banned from talking to foreigners or people outside the country’s delegation.

Before the game against Wales, already in the second round of the group stage, the Iranian players drew attention for singing the country’s anthem, albeit timidly. In the stands, Iranian fans booed the national anthem in both matches, and also displayed posters and banners in support of the demonstrators, in particular with the words “Women, Life, Freedom” (“Women, Life, Freedom”), seen on T-shirts. and paints on the body of the fans.

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An Iranian fan holds a national team T-shirt with the name of Mahsa Amini, who died while in police custody.  Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

An Iranian fan holds a team shirt with the name of Mahsa Amini, who died while in police custody. Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Iran has been experiencing a wave of demonstrations since September, when young Mahsa Amini died while being held under guard by the morality police in Tehran, the country’s capital. Mahsa, who was 22, was on the street with her father and brother when she was stopped by the morality police for allegedly improperly wearing her hijab, a veil that Iranian women must wear to cover their hair.

Demonstrators have since taken to the country’s streets in violent protests. Many women defied the government regime by removing their hijab and cutting their hair in public as a way of demonstrating their anger at the country’s strict laws.

Before the World Cup there were doubts about the selection of some players, in particular Sardar Azmoun of Bayer Leverkusen, who had posted his support for the demonstrators on social networks. The summons was postponed, but Azmoun ended up on the list.

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