Authorities in Iran have arrested a former national football player for criticising the government over the crackdown on protests in the Islamic Republic.
Voria Ghafouri, who had been dropped from Iran’s national squad ahead of the Qatar World Cup over his criticism of the regime, was arrested after a training session with his local club Foolad Khuzestan in Iran.
The 35-year-old was arrested over accusations that he had ‘tarnished the reputation of the national team and spread propaganda against the state,’ Fars News agency reported.
Ghafouri was also accused of supporting ‘rioters’, a term the Islamic states uses to refer to the anti-government protesters who have been demonstrating following the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s morality police on September 16.
The 22-year-old died three days after her arrest in Tehran for allegedly breaching the Islamic dress code for women.
He was listed as a member of Iran’s 2018 World Cup squad but was not named in the final lineup playing at this year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Ghafouri was formerly the captain of Iran’s leading club Esteghlal before his contract was terminated and he moved to Foolad Khuzestan.
His arrest comes as Iran’s footballers who are competing in the World Cup were warned by officials in Tehran they face retribution for their ‘insulting’ decision not to sing their national anthem ahead of their Qatar World Cup match against England.