Iran arrests soccer participant Voria Ghafouri

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran arrested a outstanding former member of its nationwide soccer group Thursday after criticizing the federal government as authorities crack down on nationwide protests which have forged a shadow on their World Cup competitors.

The semi-official Fars and Tasnim information businesses mentioned Voria Ghafouri was arrested for “insulting the nationwide soccer group and transferring in opposition to the federal government.” “

Ghafouri, who was not chosen to go to the World Cup, has been criticizing the Iranian authorities all through his life. He opposed a long-standing ban on feminine spectators at males’s soccer matches in addition to Iran’s controversial international coverage, which has led to Western sanctions.

Not too long ago, he expressed his condolences to the household of a 22-year-old girl who died whereas in custody on the Iranian morality police who dismissed the newest complaints. In current days he additionally known as for an finish to a violent crackdown on protests in Iran’s western Kurdistan area.

Experiences of his arrest got here forward of Friday’s World Cup match between Iran and Wales. Throughout Iran’s opening sport, a 6-2 loss to England, members of the Iranian nationwide group refused to sing their nationwide anthem and a few followers expressed help for the protests.

The protests had been ignited by the demise of Mahsa Amini on September 16, a Kurdish girl who was arrested by the morality police within the capital, Tehran. They shortly escalated into nationwide demonstrations calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. The Kurdish area within the west of the nation, the place each Amini and Ghafouri are from, has been on the heart of the protests. Retailers within the space had been closed on Thursday following requires a basic strike.

Iranian officers haven’t mentioned whether or not Ghafouri’s actions had been a purpose he was not chosen for the nationwide group. He performs for the Khuzestan Foolad group within the southwestern metropolis of Ahvaz.

The protests present no indicators of abating, and symbolize one of many largest challenges going through Iran’s ruling elite because the 1979 Islamic Revolution that introduced them to energy. Rights teams say safety forces have used stay ammunition and birdshot on the protesters, in addition to beating and arresting them, with a lot of the violence captured on video.

No less than 442 protesters have been killed and greater than 18,000 detained because the unrest started, in accordance with Iran’s Human Rights Watch, a bunch that has been monitoring the protests.

The UN Human Rights Council voted Thursday to sentence the crackdown and to create an unbiased fact-finding mission to analyze abuses, notably these dedicated in opposition to ladies and youngsters.

Authorities have blamed the unrest on hostile international powers, with out offering proof, and say separatists and different armed teams have attacked safety forces. Human rights activists in Iran say a minimum of 57 safety personnel have been killed, and state media have reported the next toll.

The activists say they’re uninterested in a long time of social and political repression, together with a strict gown code imposed on ladies. Younger ladies have performed a number one position within the protests, eradicating the obligatory Islamic headband to specific their rejection of clerical rule.

Some Iranians are actively campaigning in opposition to their very own group on the World Cup, associating it with rulers they see as violent and corrupt. Others need the nationwide group, which incorporates gamers who’ve spoken out on social media in solidarity with the protests, to symbolize the folks of the nation.

The star of the group, Sardar Azmoun, who has been vocal concerning the complaints on-line, was on the bench for the opening sport. Along with Ghafouri, two former soccer stars had been arrested for exhibiting help for the protests.

Different Iranian athletes had been additionally drawn into the wrestle.

Iranian rock climber Elnaz Rekabi competed with out sporting the necessary headband at a global competitors in South Korea in October, a transfer extensively seen as a present of help for the protests . She acquired a hero’s welcome from activists when she returned to Iran, at the same time as she informed state media that the transfer was “pointless” in an interview that might have been given below duress.

Earlier this month, Iran’s soccer federation threatened to punish gamers on its seaside soccer group after they beat Brazil at a global match in Dubai. One of many gamers had celebrated after scoring a aim by imitating a feminine activist reducing her hair.

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