Iran have been one of the stories of the World Cup, on and off the pitch so far.
After a hammering in their first game against England, they responded with an excellent 2-0 victory over Wales in the closing stages in order to give themselves a chance to go through.
They face the USA on Tuesday evening knowing a win will qualify them for the knockout stages. Ahead of their tie, US news channel CNN has come out with gruesome revelations about Iranian government involvement with the team.
Before their first match, Iran’s players remained silent during their anthem in order to protest the execution of protestors in their home country, following the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police.
Ahead of the match against Wales, the Iran players did sing their national anthem, causing widespread booing in the crowd, who had booed the first anthem too, and in some cases even tears from their fans.
CNN say that the players were visited by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a section of the military charged with keeping order within the country. During that meeting, the players were told that if they did not behave, their families would face violence and torture back home in Iran.
It is also said that Iran sent numerous actors to Qatar in order to feign support for the national team against Wales, and will do so again for their clash against the USA.
Once again FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s desire for politics and football to remain separate for the tournament moves into the territory of satire. Regardless of what football, footballers, fans or organising bodies do or don’t do, politicians and governments do not cease to intervene in the game. FIFA seem far more interested in ensuring the former group do not have an impact rather than the latter.