Iranian footballer arrested for ‘anti-government propaganda’

As Iran plays in the 2022 World Cup in Qataris a former member of the national football team arrested for criticizing the Iranian government.

Voria Ghafouri, who was not selected as a member of Iran’s 2022 World Cup teamwas arrested on Thursday for “insulting the national soccer team and anti-government propaganda,” according to the Associated Press.

Esteghlal’s defender Voria Ghafouri, right, is marked by Ahli’s striker Abdulrahman Ghareeb, left, during the AFC Champions League Group C match between Saudi’s Al-Ahli and Iran’s Esteghlal on April 27, 2021, at King Abdullah sports stadium in the Saudi city of Jeddah .
(AFP via Getty Images)

Ghafouri recently expressed his support for the family of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while in custody by Iranian authorities.

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Her death has sparked nationwide protests calling for the end of the government of the Islamic Republic.

Ghafouri’s arrest came a day before Iran beat Wales 2-0 to clinch its first win of the 2022 World Cup.

Voria Ghafouri, player of Iran national football team at the time, right, fights for the ball with Iraqi midfielder Hussein Ali, during the AFC Asian Cup football match at Al Maktoum stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 16, 2019. The semi -official Fars and Tasnim News Agencies reported on Thursday, November 24, 2022 that Iran has arrested Ghafouri, a prominent former member of its national football team, for insulting the national football team, which is currently participating in the World Cup, and criticizing the government as authorities grappling with nationwide protests.

Voria Ghafouri, player of Iran national football team at the time, right, fights for the ball with Iraqi midfielder Hussein Ali, during the AFC Asian Cup football match at Al Maktoum stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 16, 2019. The semi -official Fars and Tasnim News Agencies reported on Thursday, November 24, 2022 that Iran has arrested Ghafouri, a prominent former member of its national football team, for insulting the national football team, which is currently participating in the World Cup, and criticizing the government as authorities grappling with nationwide protests.
(AP photo/Kamran Jebreili, file)

In their opening game against England – a 6-2 loss – Iranian players did not sing the country’s national anthem as a show of support for protesters.

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The national team sang the national anthem on Friday and joined hands before the game.

Iran scored two goals in stoppage time and shocked Wales with goals in the 98th and 101st minutes.

Iranian players celebrate winning the World Cup Group B soccer match against Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, November 25, 2022.

Iranian players celebrate winning the World Cup Group B soccer match against Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, November 25, 2022.
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

“We’re gutted, there’s no other way to put it,” Wales captain Gareth Bale told the BBC after the game. “We fought to the last second and we have to go again.

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“We’re all gutted, but we have to pick ourselves up right away. It’s definitely going to be hard for us. We’ll have to see.”

Iran now has three points in Group B and wants to advance to the knockout round of the World Cup for the first time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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