Iranian security forces have reportedly arrested soccer 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 that opposed the bloody crackdown on anti-regime protests.
Iran’s players sang their national anthem before Friday’s World Cup match against Wales after failing to do so before their opener against England. The Iranian team won 2-0, securing crucial points.
Ghafouri, of Kurdish origin, has strongly supported the protests that have shaken the country since September.
Iran has been 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 violation of the country’s strict dress code for women.
Ghafouri has represented the Iran national soccer 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.