Iran’s national soccer team made sure to sing the Islamic Republic’s national anthem before a Tuesday match against the United States, following threats from the regime to imprison and torture the players’ families.
The Iranian athletes have been in the international spotlight during the team’s first game at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The players stood silent as their country’s national anthem played, a gesture meant to signal support for protesters at home who have been organizing against the hardline regime.
On the field, the team lost to the USA 1-0, and now more bad news awaits them when they get home. According to a report from the NY Post, the soccer team “faces retribution in the Islamic Republic after coming up short in Tuesday’s showdown against the United States.”
“Mike Baker, a former CIA covert operations officer, said the Iranian players are stuck in an “untenable position” after their much-hyped match against the United States, which defeated Iran 1-0 to advance to the knockout round of 16.
“Given what we’ve seen from the Iranian regime … they’ve shown themselves to be brutal and there’s no reason to believe they’re going to suddenly become rational,” Baker said.
If the team would’ve defeated the USA, things could’ve been so much different.
“The regime would have used them for their own purposes,” Baker told The Post. “They would have spent all the focus on the victory, defeating ‘The Great Satan’ or whatever clever phrases they come up with.”
Prior to the win-or-go-home game, the Iranian government reportedly threatened players and their families if they made any demonstrations in the lead-up to kickoff. The players were told to “behave” and warned of potential imprisonment.
Iran has been rocked by nationwide protests since Mahsa Amini’s death in September. The 22-year-old died while in police custody after being arrested for improperly wearing a hijab, which violates the country’s dress code for women.
Following their loss to England, Iranian captain Ehsan Hajsafi said the team “supports” the protestors.
“We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy,” Hajsafi told reporters, and added that families of the victims “should know that we are with them, we support them and we sympathize with them.”
Now that support could cost them dearly.