sport news World Cup stars let Iran down by refusing to protest... how football failed a ... trends now
It's two weeks since Lionel Messi lifted the World Cup and a month since Iran - aka Team Melli - left Qatar after losing to the USA in their final group match.
In the context of the continuing disaster in Iranian society and politics, the World Cup is an irrelevance. In the minds of so many of our people who have been railing against an oppressive government, it was also a missed opportunity.
The tragic death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on 16 September turned Iranian politics upside down. We have been a country in revolt since. A widespread view here was that if our footballers wouldn't support social change on the biggest stage, even with the risk that entailed, then we can't support them.
Iran's national football team chose not to make significant protests at the World Cup in Qatar
Hundreds of Iranians have been killed for protesting basic human rights in the in-crisis country
Lots of people here feel our national team let them down, showing no outward empathy with protestors here beyond refusing to sing the national anthem before the opening match.
Among Iranian fans in Qatar, according to some who were there, was an ominous contingent of Iranian government officials. Qatar's tough restrictions on fans making political demonstrations also made it harder for Iranian supporters to voice dissent.
The players had a global stage to speak out and didn't take that chance.
Of course it takes bravery to face down your government but watching from here the players acted as usual; goal celebrations disappointed many. When Team Melli returned to Tehran there was a surprising welcome, by a crowd that seemed to have been unnaturally assembled by the government.
Mahsa Amini died in hospital in September under suspicious circumstances after failing to comply to Iran's mandatory hijab law
Ordinary Iranians, not least many women and young people fighting for basic rights, have been killed in their scores for protesting for those rights. The Iranian Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) says more than 508 have been killed by the authorities. Even the Iranian government accept the number is higher than 200.
HRANA also warns that 60 to 100 prisoners are at risk of execution, simply for speaking out against the regime. Amir Nasr Azadani, 26, a former player in the Iranian Pro League is one of them, sentenced to death.
Since the Iran squad got back, they have remained silent. They don't talk about anything outside of Team Melli and what happened in the matches. They are being criticised for receiving bonuses, such as an official license to import