November 30, 2022

Those guys are brave. Wow.

"The Iranian team from the World Cup is bracing for what could be an unwelcome homecoming by the Islamic republic after failing to advance in six World Cup appearances now," Willie Geist said on Morning Joe.

"They did say ahead of the national anthem the display followed reports the players were threatened with imprisonment and torture if they did not behave after failing to sing the national anthem last week in protest. A win against the U.S. could have helped eased transgressions but a covert operations officers tells the New York Post Iranian players are stuck in an untenable position, retaliations for disloyalty and failure to beat the united states.

"Joe, this was a concern immediately. That's why we said again and again, an incredible act of courage for those Iranian players in that first game not to sing the national anthem. Speaking out for the women of Iran, some of them being attacked in the streets as we speak. They may now face the consequences when they head home."

"Willie, it was terrible, as I was watching the game," Joe Scarborough said.

"Obviously cheering on Team USA, at the same time you couldn't help but feel for these Iranian players who took -- we go back to the '68 Olympics, and the raised clinched fists in '68, and that was so courageous. You look at these players on the largest of the world stages. It's like the '68 Olympics in Mexico City, not singing the national anthem with the regime that they know could kill them, jail them, torture them, kill their families. Imprison their families, and it showed extraordinary courage, but, yeah. It was difficult watching the Iranian players afterwards. Just because what they may face when they go home."

Guest Karim Sadjadpour from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace talked about what those players face.

"First, this game took place against the backdrop of the largest national uprisings in Iran since the country's 1979 revolution," he said.

"Over the last three months, nearly 19,000 Iranians have been imprisoned, more than 500 Iranians killed, and remember, this is a regime whose identity is premised on anti-Americanism and whose official slogan is 'Death to America.' It desperately wanted this propaganda victory against the United States. In many ways, similar to how the Soviet Union desperately wanted propaganda victories against the United States, as you alluded to, threaten the players, if they were to exhibit any acts of protest against the regime, their families would be in trouble, their assets confiscated.

"And in the end, it ended very badly for the regime, because people in Iran actually cheered the United States victory and I think this is a reminder, Mika, that despite the fact that this is the most anti-American regime in the world, it's arguably one of the pro-American societies in the world."

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