Mehran Samak was killed by security forces for celebrating Iran’s exit from the World Cup

Mehran Samak was killed by security forces for celebrating Iran's exit from the World Cup

The Iran national team has walked a fine line between expressing support for the protesters at home and risking serious repercussions from the regime for doing so. They have been criticized for not speaking up about the violent repression of dissent on the world stage, the Associated Press reported. Some also blamed Ezatolahi for not mentioning that Samak was killed by security forces.

The team also faced early criticism for meeting and bowing to President Ebrahim Raisi before traveling to Qatar for the World Cup. During the competition, however, the players cautiously showed solidarity with the protesters at home.

Before the first game, team captain Ehsan Hajsafi acknowledged the oppression of Iranians at home and said the “conditions in our country are not right”.

“We’re here, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be their voice or not respect them,” he said.

The team-mates also remained silent as the Iranian national anthem was played in their first game against England, 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 took part in anti-government political protests, CNN reported, citing an anonymous source.

In the other two games, against Wales and then against the USA, the team sang along with the national anthem.