Iran reroutes flight and orders football legend Ali Daei's family off

Former Bayern Munich forward was travelling from Tehran to UAE when incident happened

Iranian former soccer star Ali Daei has expressed support for anti-government protests. AP.
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Iranian football legend Ali Daei, who has backed protests after the death of Mahsa Amini, said on Monday that a plane from Tehran to Dubai had been rerouted and his family ordered off.

Protests have gripped Iran since the September 16 death of Iranian-Kurdish Ms Amini, 22, after her arrest in Tehran for wearing her hijab "inappropriately".

Daei, 53, a former German Bundesliga striker whose 109 goals at international level were long unsurpassed until Cristiano Ronaldo overtook him, is one of Iran's most famous footballers.

He said his wife and daughter had been on a Mahan Air flight, that took off from the capital Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport for Dubai, Isna news agency reported.

But the plane was rerouted and made to land on Iran's Kish Island in the Gulf, where his family were removed, the state news agency Irna said.

Quoting the judiciary, Irna said that "Daei's wife had pledged to inform the relevant institutions of her decision before leaving the country", after their "association with the groups against the Islamic revolution and rioters and calling for strikes".

"The flight landed at Kish airport and Ali Daei's wife and daughter got off the plane," Irna said

The former Bayern Munich player, who played in Iran's 2-1 World Cup victory against the US in 1998, has said he has been threatened after backing the protests caused by the death of Ms Amini.

"My daughter and wife were taken off the flight, but they were not arrested," Daei said, according to Isna.

"Had they been banned [from leaving], the passport police system should have shown it. No one has given me an answer about this. I really don't know what is the reason for these things".

Daei said he was trying to arrange his family's return to Tehran.

"Did they want to arrest a terrorist?" he asked. "My wife and daughter were going to Dubai for a few days' trip and back.".

Daei on September 27 used social media to call on the government to "solve the problems of the Iranian people rather than using repression, violence and arrests".

In October, he said his passport was confiscated by police on his return from abroad, before being returned to him a few days later.

He said he had not gone to the World Cup in Qatar because of the Iranian authorities' crackdown on the protests.

Earlier in December, his jewellery shop and restaurant in Tehran's fashionable north were sealed, with local media reporting they had been ordered shut for "co-operation with anti-revolutionary groups in cyber space to disrupt peace and business of the market".

Updated: December 26, 2022, 10:08 PM