Iran stars’ families ‘threatened with torture’ if they don’t comply

Southgate previews England's World Cup clash with Wales

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The families of Iran’s World Cup players have reportedly been threatened with imprisonment and torture if the team continue their protest against the USA on Tuesday. Iranian stars refused to sing the national anthem in their opener against England as part of a protest movement that has swept the country, sparking fierce criticism from many of their politicians. 

Angry protesters have been drawn out onto the streets of Iran after a young woman died in police custody earlier this year. Mahsa Amini, 22, was detained by the country’s morality police for wearing her hijab incorrectly and Iranian authorities have cracked down on the angry response. 

Many of those who have travelled out to Qatar in support of Team Melli, as the national side are known, have held signs and symbols aloft from the stands in support of the movement. The national anthem was also booed as players stayed silent before their 6-2 defeat to England last week. 

Following fiery remarks from Iranian politicians, players reverted to singing the anthem before their win over Wales but the boos continued from the stands. 

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According to CNN, the families of Iran’s stars have been threatened with ‘torture and violence’ if the players don’t sing before Tuesday’s showdown with the USA. The two states have long been at odds politically with no formal diplomatic relations for over 40 years. 

There is expected to be a huge audience for the clash with both teams in contention of reaching the knockout stages in Qatar. With Wales requiring a miraculous goal difference, it is likely that the winner between Iran and the USA will join England in making it out of Group B. 

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

Iran and the USA were recently embroiled in a spat due to flag controversy. The United States Soccer Federation removed part of Iran’s flag in a social media post as a symbol of support for protesters before it was swiftly deleted, amid calls from Iran to see the States removed from the tournament entirely. 

Carlos Queiroz has also been caught up in drama after Germany hero Jurgen Klinsmann accused his team of pressuring the referee into decisions due to their ‘football culture’. “Dear Jurgen; You took the initiative to call me Carlos, so I believe it is proper to call you Jurgen. Right?” wrote Queiroz on Twitter. 

“Even not knowing me personally, you question my character with a typical prejudiced judgment of superiority. No matter how much I can respect what you did inside the pitch, those remarks about Iran Culture, Iran National Team and my Players are a disgrace to Football. Nobody can hurt our integrity if it is not at our level, of course.”

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