Voria Ghafouri: Top Iranian footballer arrested by regime over alleged criticism

The captain of his club, who has 28 caps for his country, has been an outspoken critic of Iranian authorities for years

Iranian security forces arrested national football player Voria Ghafouri over accusations that he spread 'propaganda' against the Islamic republic, Fars news agency reported. AFP
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An Iranian international footballer has been arrested for criticising his country's government, state-linked media reported on Thursday.

Voria Ghafouri was arrested also for insulting Iran's national team, who are currently playing in the World Cup, the semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported.

The player was taken into custody at his club Foolad Khuzestan, where he is captain, on charges of having "tarnished the reputation of the national team and spread propaganda against the state", Fars said.

Ghafouri, who was not chosen to go to the World Cup, has been an outspoken critic of Iranian authorities and policies throughout his football career.

Iran has been the scene of anti-government protests for more than two months, the biggest challenge to its Islamic theocracy in more than a decade.

The demonstrations were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in morality police custody. Her family say she was beaten to death.

The state has arrested as many as 14,000 people since the start of the fresh wave of demonstrations in September, the UN found. Iran on Sunday sentenced a sixth person to death over the unrest, Tasnim reported.

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Updated: June 13, 2023, 11:27 AM