Iran arrests footballer for insulting World Cup team, criticising crackdown on protesters
Iran security forces have arrested one of the country’s most prominent footballers and a former member of the Iran national team member, following allegations of his criticisms against the government and undermining the country’s participation at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Voria Ghafouri, who was omitted from the country’s squad for the ongoing FIFA World Cup has been a regular critic of the government of Iran even during his time with the national team. He has been critical of the regime’s hard stance on several societal issues especially about women.
The news of the arrest of the 35-year-old was reported by semi official Fars and Tasnim news agencies, stating he was arrested for “insulting the national soccer team and propagandising against the government.”
His arrest came on the eve of Iran’s 6-2 loss to the Three Lions of England in their World Cup group opener on Friday where the members of the team refused to sing the country’s national anthem during the regular pre-match ritual to protest about the deplorable situations back at home.
Ghafouri, who had also on multiple occasions spoken against the longstanding ban on women in men’s football matches in Iran and the country’s political and diplomatic confrontations leading to several sanctions, became more vocal following the death of Mahsa Amini in September.
Amini is a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died in custody of Iranian morality police in the country’s capital city of Tehran after being arrested for not dressing properly. The incident sparked outrage globally and widespread protests in the Islamic country since then.
A Foolad Khuzestan player and national team forward Sardar Azmoun, who was named on the bench against England, backed the protest online. Two other former football stars have also been arrested for backing the demonstrations.
Many people are calling for the overthrow of the Iranian government, stating that they are tired of decades of social injustice.
An estimated 442 protesters have been killed and more than 18,000 arrested in the government crackdown that the UN Human Rights Council voted on Thursday to condemn and initiate the investigation into allegations of abuses of protesters , especially women and children.
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