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Iranian footballer arrested by authorities days after national team World Cup protest

Jayden Collins

| Last updated 

Iranian footballer arrested by authorities days after national team World Cup protest

A former member of the Iranian national football team has been arrested over his criticism of the government amid nationwide protests.

The semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported, via Wide World of Sports, that Voria Ghafouri has been arrested for ‘insulting the national football team and propagandising against the government’.

It comes just days after the Iranian national football team chose not to sing their national anthem prior to their opening match against England.

Voria Ghafouri. SPP Sport Press Photo. / Alamy.
Voria Ghafouri. SPP Sport Press Photo. / Alamy.

Ghafouri wasn’t chosen to go to the World Cup and has long been a critic of Iranian authorities throughout his career.

It’s unclear whether the decision to not take him to Qatar stems from his criticism of the government.

In the past, he has objected to the ban on women spectators at men’s football matches and Iran’s confrontational foreign policy.

More recently he expressed sympathy to the family of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who died while in the custody of morality police on September 16.

It was Amini’s death that ignited protests across the nation against the country’s harsh restrictions on women.

In recent days Ghafouri called for an end to the violent crackdown on protests in Iran’s western Kurdistan region.

Ghafouri, who has 28 caps for Iran, is regarded as one of the best right-backs from the nation.

He currently plays for the Khuzestan Foolad team in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.

The club’s chairman Hamidreza Garshasbi resigned on Thursday, according to ABC News.

The Iranian football players were ultimately praised online for their bravery in taking a stance and standing with the demonstrators against the Iranian regime.

One football fan tweeted: “Really powerful moment as Iran players do not sing their national anthem, with it backtracked by audible boos and jeers from their fans.”

Another said: “Whoa! Iran’s team refuses to sing their national anthem in protest against the Islamic regime at the FIFA World Cup.

“Even some Iranian members of the crowd booed at their own anthem.


ABC News reports that at least 442 protestors have been killed and more than 18,000 detained since the start of the unrest.

The UN Human Rights Council has voted to condemn the crackdown and create an independent fact-finding mission to investigate alleged abuses.

SPORTbible has reached out to Iranian officials for comment.

Featured Image Credit: SPP Sport Press Photo. / Alamy. @StefSimanowitz/Twitter.

Topics: Football, Football World Cup

Jayden Collins
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