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