An Iranian activist supports the US at a World Cup match amid nationwide protests

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Iranian activists in Tehran are showing their support for the US men’s soccer team as the US and Iran prepare to face off at the World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday.

As deadly protests continue across Iran, activists expect a loss for Tehran to be a blow to the regime and its leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“As an Iranian Kurd, I have no desire for the mullah’s team to win,” an activist named Nassaer of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, also known as the MEK, told Fox News Digital. “This team does not represent the Iranian people.”

Iranian soccer fans hold signs reading Woman Life Freedom and Freedom For Iran, before the World Cup Group B soccer match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.

Iranian soccer fans hold signs reading Woman Life Freedom and Freedom For Iran, before the World Cup Group B soccer match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Monday, 21 November 2022.
(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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The activist accused the Iranian team of being “anti-human, anti-Iranian and anti-Kurdish” and said it “does not give any value to Iran’s sports community”.

“The people’s slogan these days is ‘death to the dictator’,” he added.

Fox News Digital could not confirm how the Iranian players align politically, although Tuesday’s game has drawn global attention after months of protests demanding rights for women.

The Iranian team did not sing the national anthem before their first match against England last week, although they did sing together before the match against Wales on Friday.

Reports on Tuesday suggested that relatives of Iranian players were threatened if the team refused to sing Iran’s national anthem again.

Iranian team players celebrate at the end of the World Cup Group B soccer match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar on Friday, November 25 of 2022.

Iranian team players celebrate at the end of the World Cup Group B soccer match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar on Friday, November 25 of 2022.
(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

The match will be the first time in nearly 25 years that the US and Iran have faced each other on the pitch.

Athletes have long used sporting events to advance social and political issues, including American football athletes in recent years who have drawn attention to black rights in the US by kneeling during the national anthem, although similar actions by Iranian players could have deadly consequences.

Another activist who spoke to Fox News Digital pointed to the last time an Iranian soccer player defied Khamenei’s regime, leading to his arrest, torture and subsequent execution.

‚ÄúThis is the same regime that in 1981 executed Habib Khabiri, the captain of the Iranian soccer team in the 1978 World Cup because he was a supporter of the Mujahedin-e Khalq. [MEK]” said a MEK activist who goes by the name of Mahsa.

“The people want to see the defeat of the regime team [the] party because this team does not represent the Iranian people,” he argued. “The regime exploits football and sports to advance its own policies.”

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Millions of fans not only in the United States and Iran, but around the world, will be watching Tuesday’s game to see how Iran’s players behave on the field, if they participate in the national anthem of the Iran and how they interact with the US team.

Iranian players pose before the World Cup Group B soccer match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.

Iranian players pose before the World Cup Group B soccer match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.
(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

The 1998 game also followed years of political turmoil between Washington and Tehran following the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. However, the players seemed to put politics aside as the team Iranian presented the US with white roses as a sign of peace.

However, that peace offer is not expected on Tuesday unless Iranian players deliberately show a break with the regime, which called for the US to be banned from the games earlier this week over its support for activists by women’s rights in Iran.

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The USA-Iran game is scheduled for Tuesday at 2:00 PM EST on FOX.

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