Iranians face retribution after World Cup loss against USA: experts

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Iran’s national football team awaits retaliation in the Islamic Republic after coming up short in Tuesday’s showdown with the United States, experts told The Post.

Mike Baker, a former CIA covert operations agent, said the Iranian players are stuck in an “unsustainable position” after their much-hyped match against the United States, who beat Iran 1-0 to advance to the knockout round from 16.

“Given what we have seen from the Iranian regime … they have shown themselves to be brutal and there is no reason to believe that they will suddenly become rational,” Baker said.

In their opening game against England last week, Iranian players refused to sing their national anthem in an apparent protest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was reportedly beaten into police custody for not wearing a hijab in September.

And while Iran’s players sang their national anthem on Tuesday, a win against the US would have eased their earlier offense, Baker said.

After Iran’s footballers failed to sing their national anthem last week before taking on England at the World Cup, their families were reportedly threatened with jail time and torture if the team did not “behave” during Tuesday’s game.
AP
American striker Christian Pulisic scored the winning goal in Iran on Tuesday to force the Islamic Republic out of the World Cup.
American striker Christian Pulisic scored the winning goal against Iran on Tuesday to force the Islamic Republic out of the World Cup.
REUTERS

“The regime would have used them for its own purposes,” Baker told The Post. “They would have put all their focus on victory, defeating ‘The Great Satan’ or whatever clever phrases they come up with.”

On Monday, CNN reported that families of the Iranian team were threatened with prison and torture if the players did not “behave” before their game against the US. Iranian players were forced to face Iranian Revolutionary Guards after they demonstrated before the game against England, the report said.

Protests have erupted across Iran since Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old aspiring lawyer, was arrested for improperly wearing a hijab and died in police custody in September.
Protests have erupted across Iran since Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old aspiring lawyer, was arrested for improperly wearing a hijab and died in police custody in September.
Getty Images
Iran's match against the US began with sporting handshakes, despite reported threats to the players and unrest in their homeland.
Iran’s match against the US began with sporting handshakes, despite reported threats to the players and unrest in their homeland.
REUTERS

Elnaz Rekavi, an Iranian mountain climber, is reportedly under house arrest in her home country for competing abroad in October without a mandatory hijab – seen by many as a gesture of support for Amini. Rekabi, 33, was threatened with the seizure of her family’s property unless she made a “forced apology”, according to reports.

Now the Iranian team could be fined or even arrested in the wake of Tuesday’s defeat as soon as they get home — in retaliation for their disloyalty and their failure to defeat the enemy, Baker said.

Iranian mountaineer Elnaz Rekavi is reportedly under house arrest for participating in competitions abroad without compulsory hijab.
Iranian mountaineer Elnaz Rekavi is reportedly under house arrest for participating in competitions abroad without compulsory hijab.
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF SPOR

“Neither is good if you are an Iranian player when you return home,” he added.

According to Baker, who now serves as CEO at Portman Square Group, a global intelligence firm.

Experts say the Iranian football team is in a
Iran’s soccer team was in an “unsustainable position” when it started the match against the US, pundits told The Post.
REUTERS

Iran has been rocked by furious anti-government protests since Amini’s death. On Monday, 451 protesters were killed in clashes with authorities, including 64 children. according to the non-profit organization Human Rights Activists in Iran. Iran’s ruling clerics are particularly focused on ending the rampant unrest that has erupted in 157 cities across the country since mid-September.

The Iranian players could potentially defect to other countries, though that’s unlikely because it would be particularly difficult to leave relatives behind, Baker said.

Some protesters in Iran have criticized their footballers for not being vocal enough to support their cause, an expert told The Post.
Some protesters in Iran have criticized their footballers for not being vocal enough to support their cause, an expert told The Post.
AFP via Getty Images
Non-profit organization Human rights activists in Iran estimates that 451 protesters have been killed in clashes with authorities since Monday.
Non-profit organization Human rights activists in Iran estimates that 451 protesters have been killed in clashes with authorities since Monday.
AFP via Getty Images

“It’s hard to put ourselves in that position,” he continued. “You put your family and friends at risk if you do that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some players think about it.”

Kenneth R. Timmerman, an author and Iran expert, said the fate of the Iranian players had already been decided ahead of Tuesday’s game, “because they have already committed that sin” of not singing the national anthem.

“I would be afraid of arrest,” Timmerman said. “Even if they had won, they would have been arrested, severely beaten and warned, ‘Never do this again.'”

Iran expert Kenneth R. Timmerman said he fears the team will be arrested for disrespecting their country when they return home.
Iran expert Kenneth R. Timmerman said he fears the team will be arrested for disrespecting their country when they return home.
Shutterstock

Fatemeh Aman, a fellow at the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said she did not believe the Iranian team faces any sort of retaliation after Tuesday’s loss. That might have been different if one or two players had refused to sing the national anthem ahead of the game in the US, but she believes the team’s unity, all singing together, will protect them.

“You can’t arrest the whole national team at the same time, you can’t do that,” Aman said.

However, if a single player is deemed to be supporting the demonstrations in Iran, his passport could be confiscated or fined, Aman said.

“I think the Iranians feel sorry for them,” Aman said of the national team. “They’re in a very, very difficult position, a very bad position.”


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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