Iran has reportedly threatened the families of its World Cup soccer team with imprisonment and torture if the players failed to "behave," ahead of their match with the U.S. on Tuesday.
What Happened: In a bid to do damage control after the players refused to sing the nation's national anthem in their opening match against England on Nov. 21, Iran called the players to a meeting with members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, reported CNN.
The players were told that their families would face "violence and torture" if they did not sing the national anthem or if supported any anti-regime protest in the country, a source told the publication.
The report noted that dozens of officers from the IRGC had been drafted in to monitor the Iranian players in Qatar, who are not allowed to mingle outside the squad or meet foreigners.
"There are a large number of Iranian security officers in Qatar collecting information and monitoring the players," the source said, according to the CNN report.
The Iranian players, however, did sing the anthem before their second game against Wales last week.
The CNN report quoted the source as saying, "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."
Tehran is currently experiencing a massive countrywide wave of protests since the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody in September. The regime has accused foreign nations of inciting unrest in the country and encouraging demonstrators, who it calls “rioters.”
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