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 means of 2019, was arrested after a membership coaching session on costs of spreading “propaganda” towards the Islamic republic, Fars information company reported. .

He is without doubt 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 towards 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 towards England within the Qatari capital of Doha. The staff’s brave efficiency gained reward from all around the world.

However concern can also be rising concerning 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 together with his membership Foolad Khuzestan on costs of “tarnishing the nationwide staff’s fame and spreading propaganda towards 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 remaining line-up that performed at this 12 months’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 become a broad motion towards 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 specific solidarity with the households of victims of the crackdown.

He gained explicit reward for visiting the younger daughter of a girl who had been killed within the protests and giving her a pill.

“Voria supported her folks and paid for it. We must also help him and never depart 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 prompt that ending his profession with Esteghlal was revenge for talking out in help of earlier protests that erupted this summer season. Others argued that by the mid-Nineteen Thirties Ghafouri was already too previous for the Iranian high 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 gained 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, Workforce Melli’s subsequent recreation is towards Wales on Friday.

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Initially posted as Footballer arrested after World Cup protest in Qatar