Qatar World Cup: Voria Ghafouri arrested over Iran protest, efficiency of staff anthem goes viral

Iran has arrested a Kurdish-born former worldwide footballer who has vigorously supported protests which have rocked the nation since September, information companies mentioned.

Voria Ghafouri, an outspoken determine who has appeared 28 instances for Iran by way of 2019, was arrested after a membership coaching session on prices of spreading “propaganda” in opposition to the Islamic republic, Fars information company reported. .

He is likely one of the main figures arrested in a large-scale crackdown on protests, amid intense scrutiny over the nationwide staff’s conduct on the World Cup in Qatar.

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

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Led by captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh, the Iranian gamers remained unmoved as their anthem blared forward of the match’s opening match in opposition to England within the Qatari capital of Doha. The staff’s brave efficiency received reward from all around the world.

However concern can be rising in regards to the extent of the authorities’ crackdown in western Kurdish areas of Iran the place Ghafouri hails from, with rights teams saying dozens have been killed within the final week alone.

Ghafouri was arrested after a coaching session along with his membership Foolad Khuzestan on prices of “tarnishing the nationwide staff’s fame and spreading propaganda in opposition to the state,” the brand new Fars company mentioned.

Norway-based Kurdish rights group Hengaw additionally mentioned it was arrested, posting a photograph of the participant in conventional Kurdish gown.

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 help of the participant.

“For the Honorable Voria,” he wrote.

Ghafouri, 35, was listed as a member of Iran’s 2018 World Cup squad however was not named within the last line-up that performed at this yr’s World Cup in Qatar.

Initially from the Kurdish metropolis of Sanandaj in western Iran, Ghafouri had posted an image of himself on Instagram in conventional Kurdish apparel.

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

The protests became a broad motion in opposition to the ruling theocracy. Ghafouri on his social media accounts has strongly supported the protests and has additionally reportedly visited Kurdish-populated areas of Iran to precise solidarity with the households of victims of the crackdown.

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

‚ÄúVoria supported her folks and paid for it. We also needs to help him and never go away him alone,” US dissident Masih Alinejad tweeted.

Ghafouri was beforehand the captain of main Iranian membership Esteghlal earlier than his contract was terminated and he moved to Foolad Khuzestan.

Many followers have instructed that ending his profession with Esteghlal was revenge for talking out in help of earlier protests that erupted this summer time. Others argued that by the mid-Thirties Ghafouri was already too previous for Iran’s prime flight.

Ghafouri isn’t the primary huge title in sport to be concerned within the crackdown.

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

The worldwide staff received acclaim abroad for refusing to sing the anthem throughout Monday’s match.

However many Iranians have criticized the staff for assembly with President Ebrahim Raisi shortly earlier than leaving for Qatar as protests raged.

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

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

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Initially posted as Footballer arrested after World Cup protest in Qatar