Iran World Cup players ‘face retribution’ over USA defeat as ex-CIA agent speaks out | Football | Sport

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The Iran national team may face ‘retribution’ once they return from the 2022 World Cup after protests against the country’s government before facing England and defeat to the USA. An ex-CIA agent has claimed the players are being placed in an ‘untenable situation’ after suffering a group-stage exit, being dumped out by their political rivals.

The USA defeated Iran 1-0 on Tuesday, courtesy of Christian Pulisic’s first-half goal, leapfrogging Carlos Quieroz’s side into second in Group B. Their defeat denied them a last-16 clash against the Netherlands and sent the nation’s stars home early after an eventful campaign amid a backdrop of continued violent protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

Amini was allegedly killed while in police custody for not properly wearing a hijab in September, leading to at least a reported 451 deaths and 18,000 arrests during protests on the streets of Iran. And while Iranian players in Qatar have declined to comment, they made headlines by refusing to sing the national anthem ahead of their opener against England.

According to former ex-CIA covert operations officer Mike Baker, the ‘traitorous’ act and subsequent failure to better the USA, with whom there remains significant tension away from the football pitch, could prompt sanctions or even arrest.

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Baker claimed ‘neither’ outcome is positive for the Iran players upon returning home from the tournament. He told the New York Post: “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.

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

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Shocking reports by CNN revealed the nation’s current ruling regime threatened families of the Iran stars and coaches with jail time and torture if they stayed silent during the national anthem against Wales and the USA. The disturbing warning was likely drilled across during a meeting with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) after the 6-2 defeat to England.

As if by magic, the Iranian players and coaching staff sang their national anthem loud and clear in their final two Group B games. However, that couldn’t overpower the whistles and cries from emotional supporters in the stands, who brought the protests for Amini into the stadiums with flags and signs.

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