World Cup 2022: Iran threatens families of players ahead of US game: Report

Qatar Soccer WCup Match Moments Day 6 Photo Gallery
Iran’s players sing the national anthem prior the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan , Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein) Frank Augstein/AP

World Cup 2022: Iran threatens families of players ahead of US game: Report

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The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has threatened its men’s national soccer team players and their families ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup clash with the United States, according to a report.

Iran’s players and families have been threatened with “violence and torture” if they fail to “behave” in the lead-up to the game against the U.S., according to the report, which cited a person involved with security at the World Cup.

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Iran has been embroiled in protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody after not adhering to Iran’s strict dress code.

Many of Iran’s players have demonstrated support for the protesters in their home country, and the team refused to sing the Iranian national anthem before its Nov. 21 World Cup opener against England.

Following this display, the team was met with members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to the source, and this is when the threat of “violence and torture” was made.

Dozens of IRGC officers are now monitoring the Iranian players, who are reportedly no longer allowed to meet or mingle with foreigners, the source, who is monitoring Iranian security agencies at the World Cup, said.

“There are a large number of Iranian security officers in Qatar collecting information and monitoring the players,” the source said.

“In the last game against Wales, the regime sent over hundreds of these actor supporters in order to create a false sense of support and favor amongst the fans. For the next game against the U.S., the regime is planning to significantly increase the number of actors into the thousands.”

Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States ahead of Tuesday’s must-win game for both teams.

American head coach Gregg Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams were confronted by what appeared to be hostile Iranian journalists on Monday.

“I don’t know enough about politics. I’m a soccer coach,” Berhalter said when asked about a U.S. Navy ship in the Persian Gulf before getting grilled about a controversial social media post in which U.S. Soccer posted an image of the Iranian flag without the Islamic Republic emblem.

Berhalter “had no idea about what U.S. Soccer put out,” he said. “All we can do on our behalf is apologize on behalf of the players and the staff, but it’s not something that we are part of.”

Adams was chided by an Iranian reporter who said Adams mispronounced “Iran” and questioned why he was “representing a country that has so much discrimination against black people.”

“My apologies on the mispronunciation of your country,” Adams said.

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“That being said, there’s discrimination everywhere you go. One thing that I’ve learned, especially from living abroad in the past years and having to fit in in different cultures and kind of assimilating to different cultures, is that in the U.S. we’re continuing to make progress every single day.”

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