Iranian soccer player Voria Ghafouri arrested amid World Cup scrutiny


A prominent Iranian soccer player was arrested Thursday on charges that include destroying the reputation of the country’s national team, which is competing in the World Cup, Iranian state-linked media reported Thursday.

The player, Voria Ghafouri, is a former member of the Iranian national team and a frequent critic of the government. His arrest comes at a time when Iranian soccer players are under close scrutiny for their statements about a national uprising in Iran that has continued for months.

Iran’s World Cup team nods silently to protests at home

Iran’s national team, during a match against England on Monday, refused to sing during the playing of the country’s national anthem, in what was widely seen as a silent acknowledgment of the protests. Iran’s national broadcaster showed selected images of spectators cheering for Iran during the match, but not the political signs carried by some.

Protests in Iran began in September after a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, died in police custody. The uprising against Iran’s clerical leadership has spread across the country and sparked a fierce and deadly crackdown, including in ethnic Kurdish areas, where human rights groups say dozens of people have been killed. in the last few days.

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The UN Human Rights Council in a vote on Thursday launched an investigation into alleged rights violations in Iran’s response to the protest movement. “Today’s session leaves no doubt that the membership of the HRC recognizes the seriousness of the situation in Iran, and the fact-finding mission established today will help ensure that those engaged in the ongoing violent suppression of the people Iranians are identified and their actions documented,” the United States. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Rights groups say Iran is intensifying repression in Kurdish areas

Ghafouri, who is Kurdish, has criticized government officials on social media in the past, and has recently posted messages on Twitter condemning the killing of Kurds. Iranian reports did not specify the reasons for his arrest, but said the charges included “spreading propaganda against” the Islamic Republic.

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He has been called up to play several times in the last decade in the national team, and has played for several Iranian club teams including Foolad Khuzestan, his current team. ISNA, a semi-official news agency, said on Thursday that Hamidreza Garshasbi, the team’s CEO, had resigned, and said the reason for his resignation had not been announced.

Even before the start of the World Cup, some Iranians had asked FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, to ban the national team, known as Team Melli, as a sign of support for the protests. Others have argued that Iran attending the World Cup was a boon for the uprising: a high-profile event that provided players and spectators with an opportunity to voice dissent, along with international media.

Iran will play Wales on Friday.

World Cup in Qatar

Live Updates: The final eight teams to make their debut in Qatar take the field on Thursday in Group G and Group H games. Follow for the latest news, updates and highlights.

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USMNT: In their return to the World Cup, the young Americans settled for a 1-1 draw against Wales in their Group B opener. The US men’s national team will face a higher task on Friday against Group B favorite England, who demolished Iran, 6-2, earlier on Monday.

Qatar controversy: Soccer fans wearing the rainbow, a symbol of LGBTQ inclusivity, said they were refused entry into World Cup stadiums and confronted by members of the public for removing the emblem.

Group guide: The United States men’s national soccer team, led by coach Gregg Berhalter and star forward Christian Pulisic, has qualified for the 2022 World Cup, an improvement on their disastrous and unsuccessful 2018 campaign. Here’s a close look at how all teams in each group stack up.


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