Voria Ghafouri is one of Iran's best soccer players. Because of his anti-government attitude, the full-back is not allowed to go to the World Cup in Qatar. His club also throws the 35-year-old out. Ghafouri won't be defeated - and is now behind bars.
Former Iranian national soccer player Voria Ghafouri has been arrested, according to the pro-government news agency Tasnim. The 35-year-old defender is accused of propaganda against the Iranian political system and insulting the national team, the Tasnim report said. No further details about the arrest were given. The Football Association of Iran has not yet commented on the report.
Ghafouri was also not called up for the national team because of his political views, although he is still one of the best full-backs in the country. During the recent protests, Ghafouri clearly supported the demonstrators and repeatedly condemned the brutal actions of the police and security forces.
Iran's national team was silent during the anthem at the start of the World Cup in Qatar. Iranian activists saw it as a gesture of support for the nationwide protests in the country. Iranian state television interrupted the transmission. After that there was speculation that the players could face consequences at home.
The system-critical protests were triggered by the death of the young Iranian Kurd Jina Mahsa Amini. She died in police custody in mid-September after being arrested by morality officers for violating Islamic dress codes. The protests that followed have plunged Iran's political leadership into one of the worst crises in decades.