The former national team player has been accused of spreading fake news as authorities continue to crack down on anti-government protests.
Iran’s security forces have arrested famous football player Voria Ghafouri on charges of “defaming the reputation of the national team” and spreading “falsehoods” against Iran.
Ghafouri, who is of Kurdish origin and has been a key supporter of the protests that have rocked the country since September, was arrested after club training on Thursday, the Fars news agency reported.
Ghafouri has represented Iran in the past, but was not invited to this year’s World Cup in Qatar, where the national team refused to play the national anthem in their first match against England on Monday.
Ghafouri, who once played for Esteghlal, one of Iran’s biggest clubs, is one of the most prominent figures arrested in the crackdown on protesters, including in the western Kurdish region where he is from, where rights groups say many people have been killed in the past. only a week.
Iran has seen more than two months of protests, sparked by the death at the hands of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who is of Kurdish origin, after she was arrested for violating the country’s strict women’s laws.
On his social media accounts, Ghafouri strongly supported the protests and said he had visited Kurdish areas in western Iran to show solidarity with the families of those killed in the protests.
The Kurdish rights group Hengaw, based in Norway, also reported his arrest, sharing an Instagram photo of the actor wearing traditional Kurdish clothing.
Soccer player Voria Ghafouri, from Sanandaj and a former member of the Iran national team who now plays for Foolad FC, was kidnapped by Iranian authorities.
Thursday, November 24, 2022#JinaAmini pic.twitter.com/4atp80DBup
— Hengaw Organization for Human Rights (@Hengaw_English) November 24, 2022
Ghafouri was widely praised for visiting the daughter of a woman killed in the protests and giving her a tablet as a gift.
“Voria stood behind his people and paid. We must also stand behind him and not let him be alone,” said on Twitter, United States coordinator Masih Alinejad.
Former Iranian international footballer Ali Karimi, who supports the protests, posted the same photo on his Twitter account in support of the player.
“To the honorable Voria,” he wrote.
Ghafouri was the former captain of Esteghlal before his contract expired and he moved to Foolad Khuzestan.