The Guardian reports that those Iranian soccer players sporting green wristbands in solidarity with opposition protesters will be banned from professional play for life. A fate slightly better than that which befell Iraqi players under the sociopathic Uday Hussein. As New York Times correspondent John Burns wrote in 2003, Uday was a rather harsh critic of his team members:
After drawing or losing games, players were punished. A missed penalty or other poor play entailed a ritual head shaving at the Stadium of the People, or being spat on by Uday's bodyguards.
A series of poor passes, carefully counted, could result in a player's being forced to stand before the president's son in the dressing room, hands at his side, while he was punched or slapped in the face an equal number of times.
But those were the lesser miseries. Some players endured long periods in a military prison, beaten on their backs with electric cables until blood flowed. Other punishments included "matches" kicking concrete balls around the prison yard in 130-degree heat, and 12-hour sessions of push-ups, sprints and other fitness drills, wearing heavy military fatigues and boots.
The Guardian on the fate of the Iranian team:
According to the pro-government newspaper Iran, four players – Ali Karimi, 31, Mehdi Mahdavikia, 32, Hosein Ka'abi, 24 and Vahid Hashemian, 32 – have been "retired" from the sport after their gesture in last Wednesday's match against South Korea in Seoul.
They were among six players who took to the field wearing wristbands in the colour of the defeated opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, which has been adopted by demonstrators who believe the 12 June election was stolen.
Most of the players obeyed instructions to remove the armwear at half-time, but Mahdavikia wore his green captain's armband for the entire match. The four are also said to have been banned from giving media interviews.
The fate of the other two players who wore the wristbands is unknown. None of the team members were given back their passports upon returning to Tehran after the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw – a result that ended Iran's hopes of qualifying for next year's tournament.
Karimi is one of Iranian football's best-known stars, having played for the German club Bayern Munich. Ka'abi played for Leicester City for several months during the 2007/8 season. Hashemian and Mahdavikia play for the German teams Bochum and Eintracht Frankfurt.