Qatar World Cup: Voria Ghafouri arrested over Iran protest, group’s anthem show goes viral

Iran has arrested a former worldwide soccer participant of Kurdish origin who has strongly supported the protests which have rocked the nation since September, information companies mentioned.

Voria Ghafouri, an outspoken determine who appeared 28 occasions for Iran up till 2019, was arrested after a membership coaching session over accusations that he unfold “propaganda” in opposition to the Islamic republic, the Fars information company reported.

He is likely one of the most outstanding figures arrested in a widescale crackdown on protests, amid intense scrutiny on the conduct of the nationwide group on the World Cup in Qatar.

The group shunned singing the nationwide anthem at their first match in opposition to England on Monday.

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Led by captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh, the Iranian gamers stood impassively as their anthem rang out earlier than their opening match of the match in opposition to England within the Qatari capital Doha. The group’s courageous show gained reward from all over the world.

However concern can also be rising over the extent of the authorities’ crackdown within the western Kurdish areas of Iran from which Ghafouri hails, with rights teams saying dozens have been killed over the past week alone.

Ghafouri was detained after a coaching session together with his membership Foolad Khuzestan on costs of getting “tarnished the fame of the nationwide group and unfold propaganda in opposition to the state”, the Fars new company mentioned.

Kurdish-focused rights group Hengaw, based mostly in Norway, additionally mentioned he had been arrested, posting an image of the participant in conventional Kurdish costume.

Former Iranian worldwide footballer Ali Karimi, one other outspoken supporter of the protests, additionally posted the identical picture of Ghafouri on his Twitter account in assist of the participant.

“For the honourable Voria,” he wrote.

Ghafouri, 35, was listed as a member of Iran’s 2018 World Cup squad however was not named within the ultimate lineup taking part in at this yr’s World Cup in Qatar.

Initially from the Kurdish-populated metropolis of Sanandaj in western Iran, Ghafouri had posted a photograph of himself on Instagram in conventional Kurdish costume.

Iran has seen greater than two months of demonstrations sparked by the loss of life in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, herself of Kurdish origin, after she was arrested for an alleged breach of the nation’s strict costume code for ladies.

The protests have swelled right into a broad motion in opposition to the ruling theocracy. Ghafouri had on his social media accounts strongly backed the protests and likewise reportedly visited the Kurdish-populated areas of Iran to specific solidarity with households of the victims of the crackdown.

He gained specific reward for visiting the younger daughter of a lady who had been killed within the protests and giving her a pill as a present.

“Voria stood behind his individuals and paid for it. We must also stand behind him and never let him be alone,” tweeted US-based dissident Masih Alinejad.

Ghafouri was previously the captain of Iran’s main membership Esteghlal earlier than his contract was terminated and he moved to Foolad Khuzestan.

Many followers instructed the ending of his profession with Esteghlal was revenge for talking out in assist of earlier protests that erupted this summer season. Others argued that in his mid-30s Ghafouri was already too outdated for the Iranian prime flight.

Ghafouri just isn’t the primary massive sports activities title to have been caught up within the crackdown.

Worldwide footballer Hossein Mahini was arrested in October for supporting the protests however was later launched.

The worldwide facet gained plaudits overseas for his or her refusal to sing the anthem on the match on Monday.

However many Iranians have criticised the group for assembly President Ebrahim Raisi simply earlier than leaving for Qatar because the protests raged.

“They gamers out not our enemies,” Iran’s Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz this week wrote on Instagram in response to the anger.

After dropping 6-2 to England, Group Melli’s subsequent match is in opposition to Wales on Friday.

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Initially printed as Footballer arrested after Qatar World Cup protest