Iranian soccer player Voria Ghafouri has been arrested amid World Cup scrutiny

Iranian soccer player Voria Ghafouri has been arrested amid World Cup scrutiny

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A prominent Iranian soccer player was arrested Thursday on charges of defaming the country’s national team, which is competing in the World Cup, a state-linked Iranian media outlet reported Thursday.

The player, Voria Ghafouri, is a former member of the Iranian national team and a frequent critic of the government. His arrest comes at a time when Iranian soccer players are under close scrutiny for their statements about the nationwide uprising in Iran that has been ongoing for months.

Iran’s World Cup team quietly bowed out in protest at home

Iran’s national team, during a match against England on Monday, refused to sing during the playing of the country’s national anthem, which was widely seen as a tacit acknowledgment of the protest. Iran’s national broadcaster showed some images of spectators cheering for Iran during the match but not some political signs.

Protests erupted in Iran in September after Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman, died in police custody. The uprising against Iran’s clerical leadership has spread across the country and sparked a fierce and deadly crackdown, including in ethnic Kurdish regions, where rights groups say dozens of people have been killed in recent days.

In the United Nations Human Rights Council a vote A launch on Thursday investigation Alleged rights violations in Iran’s response to the protest movement. “Today’s session leaves no doubt that the membership of the HRC recognizes the gravity of the situation in Iran and that the fact-finding mission established today will help ensure that those involved in the ongoing violent repression of the Iranian people are identified and their actions documented.” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement.

Rights groups say Iran is stepping up repression in Kurdish areas

Ghafuri, who is Kurdish, has criticized government officials on social media in the past and recently posted messages on Twitter condemning the killing of Kurds. Iranian news reports did not specify a reason for his arrest, but the charges included “spreading propaganda” against the Islamic Republic.

He has been called up to the national team several times over the past decade and has played for several Iranian clubs, including his current squad Fulad Khuzestan. ISNA, a semi-official news agency, reported on Thursday that the party’s chief executive officer, Hamidreja Garshasbi, had resigned and said the reason for his resignation had not yet been announced.

Even before the start of the World Cup, some called on FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, to ban the national team, known as Team Melli, as a sign of support for the Iranian protests. Others argued that Iran’s participation in the World Cup was a boon for the rebellion: a high-profile event that allowed players and spectators to express dissent, watched by the international media.

Iran will play against Wales on Friday.

World Cup in Qatar

Live Updates: The last eight teams to debut in Qatar will take the field on Thursday Group G And Group H Follow along for the game Latest news, updates and highlights.

USMNT: In their return to the World Cup, the young Americans settled for a 1-1 draw against Wales in their Group B opener. The US men’s national team faces a tall task against Friday Group B Favorites England, which thrashed Iran 6-2 earlier on Monday.

Qatar Controversy: Football fans wearing rainbows as a symbol of LGBTQ inclusion say they are Denied entry to World Cup stadiums and confront members of the public to remove symbols.

Group Guide: The US men’s national soccer team, led by coach Greg Berhalter and star forward Christian Pulisic, qualified for the 2022 World Cup, an improvement from a disastrous and unsuccessful 2018 campaign. Here’s a closer look How all the teams in each group stack up.

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