Iran arrests protest-supporting footballer ahead of World Cup game

Iranian security forces have reportedly arrested football player Voria Ghafouri on charges of having “tarnished the reputation of the national team” and spreading “propaganda” against Iran.

He was arrested after a club training session on Thursday, according to multiple reports. Critics said the move is to intimidate the Iranian team which took a stand against the bloody crackdown against the anti-regime protests.

Iran’s players sang their national anthem before Friday’s World Cup game against Wales after not doing so before their opener against England. The Iranian team won 2-0, securing crucial points.

Ghafouri, who is of Kurdish origins, has strongly supported the protests that have rocked the country since September.

Iran is embroiled in unrest for more than two months after the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was arrested for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women.

Ghafouri has represented Iran’s national football team in the past, but was not called up for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Former Iranian international footballer Ali Karimi, another outspoken supporter of the protests, also posted the same photo of Ghafouri in Kurdish dress on his Twitter account in support of the player.