Iran: arrest of famous footballer Voria Ghafouri, critic of power

Voria Ghafouri, here on April 27, 2021. AFP - -

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2 mins

In Iran a famous footballer was arrested on Thursday November 24 for propaganda against the state.

Voria Ghafouri, 28 international selections, originally from Kurdistan, supported the protest movement on her social networks.

Former captain of the Esteghlal club, he had to leave his team last July because of his criticism of power.

His arrest comes as the national team in Doha has been under the spotlight since its refusal to sing the national anthem.


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Voria Ghafouri, 35, is one of the most prominent figures arrested in the crackdown on the protest movement that has erupted since the September 16 death of a young Iranian Kurd,

Mahsa Amini

, arrested by vice police for not having respected the strict dress code imposed by the regime.

On social media, Ghafouri, a native of Sanandaj, the capital of Iran's Kurdistan province, vigorously supported the protests.

He also posted a photo of himself in traditional Kurdish attire on his Instagram account and traveled to Kurdish-populated areas of Iran to express his solidarity with the families of the victims of the crackdown.

Accused of having " 

insulted and tarnished the reputation of the national team (Team Melli) and of having engaged in propaganda

 " against the state, he was arrested after a training session for his team Foolad de Khuzestan, by decision of the Judicial Authority.

Strong pressure on players

Asked on the eve of Iran's match against Wales, striker Mehdi Taremi said that the

Melli team

had been under "

 no pressure 

" from the government since its refusal to sing the Iranian anthem earlier this week.

But he did not want to discuss the protest movement that is shaking the country, explaining that he preferred to discuss these subjects in private.

►Also read: 

2022 World Cup: the eleven Iranian players refrain from singing their anthem

The tension has been high for the Iranian players since their first match in the World Cup.

The silence of the players Monday 21 on the ground, interpreted as a sign of support for the demonstrations against the regime, does not convince some of the supporters, who had reproached the national team for its meeting with President Raïsi before his departure for Doha.

#VoriaGhafouri famous football player, Kurdish citizen of Iran, very critical of the Islamic regime and who had openly taken a stand against the murderous repression of Kurdish cities, has just been arrested according to the regime's media.

— letters from Tehran (@LettresTeheran) November 24, 2022

In any case, the Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz invoked the pressure of the political situation on the players.

You can't imagine everything they go through behind the scenes just because they want to express themselves as footballers 

," he said on Monday.

Sardar Amzoun, star of the national team, had denounced the repression of the demonstrations on social networks before his departure for Qatar.

Abroad as in Iran, many players support the challenge of the regime, like the former international Voria Ghafouri, arrested Thursday.

►Also read: 

Iran: the UN plans to launch an international investigation

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