The Iranian national team walks a fine line between expressing support for repatriated protesters and facing serious consequences from the regime for doing so. He has been criticized for not being more vocal about the regime’s violent crackdown on dissent on the world stage, the Associated Press reported. Some called out Ejatolahi for failing to mention that Samak was killed by security forces.
The team faced criticism for meeting and greeting President Ibrahim Raisi before traveling to Qatar for the World Cup. However, during the competition, the players cautiously expressed solidarity with the protesters back home.
Before its first match, team captain Ehsan Hajsafi acknowledged the oppression of the Iranians back home, saying “the conditions in our country are not good”.
“We’re here, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be their voice or that we shouldn’t respect them,” he said.
In their first match against England, teammates fell silent during the playing of Iran’s national anthem, which many interpreted as a show of support for the protesters.
They were later threatened by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and told their families would face “violence and torture” if they participated in any political protests against the government, CNN reported, citing an anonymous source.
The team joined in singing the national anthem in their other two matches against Wales and then against the US.