Iran Arrests Pro-Protest Soccer Player Voria Ghafouri | news

The former international has been charged with “spreading propaganda” as authorities continue to crack down on anti-government protests.

Iranian security forces have arrested popular soccer player Voria Ghafouri on charges of “damaging the national team’s reputation” and spreading “propaganda” against Iran.

Ghafouri, who is of Kurdish origin and has been a strong supporter of the protests that have rocked the country since September, was arrested on Thursday after a club training session, Fars news agency reported.

Ghafouri has represented the Iran national football team in the past but was not called up for this year’s World Cup in Qatar, where the national team refrained from singing the national anthem in their first game against England on Monday.

Ghafouri, who has played for Esteghlal, one of Iran’s biggest clubs, is among the most prominent figures arrested in a wide-scale crackdown on protesters, including in the western Kurdish areas he hails from, with rights groups saying there were dozens been killed in the past week alone.

Iran has seen more than two months of demonstrations sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, herself of Kurdish origin, after she was arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

On his social media accounts, Ghafouri had strongly supported the protests, saying he had visited Kurdish-populated areas in western Iran to express his solidarity with the families of those killed during the protests.

Kurdish-aligned rights group Hengaw, based in Norway, also said he was arrested and shared an Instagram picture the player posted of himself in traditional Kurdish attire.

Ghafouri was particularly praised for visiting the young daughter of a woman killed in the protests and giving her a pill.

Former Iran international Ali Karimi, another outspoken supporter of the protests, also posted the same photo of Ghafouri in Kurdish attire on his Twitter account in support of the player.

“For the honorable Voria,” he wrote.

Ghafouri used to captain Esteghlal before his contract ended and he joined Foolad Khuzestan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *