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I Couldn’t Stop Thinking About The Long Trip Home For The Iranian Men’s Soccer Team, and The Fate That Awaits Them. If That Makes Me A Pussy So Be It.

CNN- The families of Iran's World Cup soccer team have been threatened with imprisonment and torture if the players fail to "behave" ahead of the match against the USA on Tuesday, a source involved in the security of the games said.

Following the refusal of Iranian players to sing the nation's national anthem in their opening match against England on November 21, the source said that the players were called to a meeting with members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The source said that they were told that their families would face "violence and and torture" if they did not sing the national anthem or if they joined any political protest against the Tehran regime.

So this was last week. 

The Iranian men’s team made a pretty bold stand on the international stage to let the world know where they stand in terms of what’s playing out in front of the worlds eyes in their home country. Mass protests over the murder of Mahsa Amini by Iran’s “Morality Police” for not wearing a hijab.

The younger (more intelligent) generations in Iran have had it, especially the women, and this looks like it was the spark this revolt needed.

To you and I, people who’ve enjoyed freedom to the point we’re so spoiled we don’t really even know the technical meaning of it, because we don’t need to, not singing along to a national anthem isn’t really a big deal. 

But for people coming from a land like Iran, it is. A really big fucking deal. It’s a place where you and your family go from being told you’ll have luxury cars and watches awaiting you upon your return, to be told a day later that you’ll no longer be rolling hard in the double-R, window cracked, hollering back money ain’t a thang- because you and your family are going to be waterboarded, electrocuted, and possibly killed for you “publicly embarassing your proud nation”.

That’s what transpired before Iran played Wales. The team were good boys and complied -

The players sang the anthem before their second game against Wales last Friday, which saw 2-0 victory for Iran.

The source, who is closely monitoring Iran's security agencies operating in Qatar over the World Cup period, said that dozens of officers from the IRGC had been drafted in to monitor the Iranian players who are not allowed to mingle outside the squad or meet with foreigners.

Before the match against the United States yesterday, the biggest match ever for Iran, and a pretty big one for us too if we’re being totally honest in the circle of trust here, (hey, America needs some freaking wins man in any form we can get them and you know it) there were reports that Iran had special military agents flown in to personally watch over the players and ensure there’d be no tomfoolery. 

"There are a large number of Iranian security officers in Qatar collecting information and monitoring the players," the source said.

The players, the source said, had been promised "presents and cars" ahead of the England game but the regime, the source alleged, had switched to threatening players and their families after the humiliation of the team's refusal to sing their national anthem.

They also hired a ton of actors to play the role of crazed Iranian fans to show support at the game for the team and more importantly, the regime. 

I got to Boston yesterday morning early enough to find a spot to watch the match. A bunch of us were in town to film The Dozen live at Boston House of Blues. (Spoiler alert- it was fucking amazing. Jeff D Lowe and his team did such an incredible job we were all kind of speechless. The crowd and turnout were unreal. Can’t wait for everybody to see the episodes)

I wanted to go to my favorite spot Parlor Sports Bar in Somerville but it was packed at like 11am wall to wall. So I decided on old reliable, Stats in Southie.

Thanks to our guy Mike I got a table there, was joined by some friends, and was a nervous wreck for 2 hours along with the rest of the bar as we watched the US hit crossbars, shoot just wide several times, and get called for terrible offsides calls.

You’re damn right Joe! That was a big game man!

And of course I’m happy our boys got the job done and won, but I can’t help feeling bad for the Iranian men’s squad. Make no mistake, our country would be disappointed, and let down had our team lost that match and been eliminated yesterday. But we’d get over it by Thursday night football, conference championship Saturday, and NFL week 13 games Sunday. We’d go back to pretending soccer doesn’t exist here for another 4 years.

I said this in the green room last night to a couple of Barstool personalities and they said I was a pussy for thinking that way and that’s what comes with the territory in professional sports. 

Giphy Images.

I wanted to get further into debate with them,  by explaining this wasn’t Game Of Thrones and Trial By Fucking Combat we’re talking about, it’s a kids game- the worlds game- but they kinda tuned me out I think because I don’t have as many Twitter followers as they do.

Those poor guys from Iran have no idea what they’re going back to. 

The bodies of their loved ones? Their houses burned down? Vandalized? Some other form of punishment? And all for what?

Because they drew the unlucky card of being born in a country still run by old, misogynistic ideologues living in the stone ages. 

Imagine living in a place where you fear for your loved ones lives every day, and just hope for one day to enjoy real freedom and not having to worry about that. 

It’s really sad and fucked up when you think about it and it makes me feel even luckier than I regularly feel to have been born in the United States of America. 

Most of us have it so good here it will never even dawn on us. Just by being born here. I joke around a lot about a lot of rich guys having won the “sperm lottery”, and being born into amazing situations. 

In a sense, all of us as Americans have won the sperm lottery. Sure some of us have it much much better than others. But just the fact that we’re American citizens, with inalienable rights (work with me here), including our right to liberty, and to “pursue happiness” is pretty fucking awesome. So awesome that hundreds of thousands of people who weren’t born here, risk their lives to come here to obtain it.

What I just described possibly laying in store for the Iranian Men’s national soccer team is pure fiction in most American’s minds because we’re so insulated from mindless, senseless shit like that thanks to an awful lot of things like laws, civil liberties, human rights, the bill of rights, all of our decorated men and women in all branches of our armed forces, past and present, George Washington, and a partridge in a pear tree. 

We can’t even fathom something like that because there’s no way we can relate. 

For all of the issues we have here, and there are many, at least we don’t have to worry about shit citizens in Iran, and China do on a daily basis-

It usually takes me traveling overseas to be quickly reminded how the way we operate here on a daily basis (with reckless abandon, and no consideration for anybody else basically) doesn’t fly in other places. And you can’t just do or say anything you want, whenever you want, to whoever you want like you can here. But yesterday I needed only to visit a small bar in Boston, Massachusetts- “the birthplace of Democracy!” - President Obama

So today I’m extra proud to be American, as hard as it may be some times, we’re blessed just in that we’re able to acknowledge that fact, never mind write it and publish it on a pretty popular website for the public to read. 

I’m proud of team USA and will be even more proud watching them from here on out, regardless of their overall outcome, because of knowing what they stand for as a symbol to the rest of the world, on the worlds biggest stage, in one of the most corrupt and backwards regions on the planet. 

Hit the music -