The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar has been embroiled in far too many political issues that have extended well beyond the game itself. Apart from the issues surrounding the host nation, Iran has also been in the spotlight due to the massive protests that are being staged in the country. Now, it is being alleged that members of their national team have been warned against supporting the protesters or face dire consequences.

In Iran's opening game against England, the players did not sing the national anthem before kick-off. They did this to show solidarity with the people back in Iran who have been up in arms over the past several weeks staging protests against the authoritarian government and its archaic laws.

It may be remembered that the outrage started back in September following the death of Iranian student Mahsa Amini. She died shortly after being beaten while in the custody of the country's morality police, who arrested her for breaching laws pertaining to the hijab. Her death sparked protests all over the country as well as in Iranian communities abroad.

However, the players' decision to join the movement did not go down well with the government and its leader, Ali Khamenei. Marca reports that the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) have allegedly stepped in to issue a warning to the players.

Apparently, they have been ordered to "behave themselves" during the tournament in Qatar. In other words, they must not participate in any more activities that are related to protests against the government.

Along with the order, there is allegedly a threat that "violence and torture" awaits the players and their families back in Iran.

Meanwhile, Iran also demanded action against the US Men's National Team after the latter showed an altered image of the Iranian flag on social media as a form of support to the protests. FIFA refused to disqualify the United States, who have now advanced into the round-of-16 after beating Iran 1-0.

Iran's players did not sing their national anthem before the game
Iran's players did not sing their national anthem before the game AFP News