Iranian footballer arrested for speaking out against government

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Iran fans protest at the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Iran fans protest at the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Amid protests at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, an Iranian footballer has reportedly been arrested after speaking out against the government's actions of late.

The Middle Eastern nation has come in for strong criticism after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini reportedly died in police custody after being arrested for failing to comply with Iran's strict rules on women's dress by wearing an "improper hijab".

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This incident has led to nationwide protests calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

Prior to Iran's 6-2 defeat to England, Carlos Queiroz's side decided to not sing their national anthem as part of a silent protest against the government. 

It has now emerged that veteran fullback Voria Ghafouri,who has represented Iran on 26 occasions,has been arrested for "insulting the national football team and propagandising against the government", according to AP.

The report adds that Ghafouri has been a critic of the authorities throughout his lengthy career, bringing attention to a number of issues, including a longstanding ban on women at men's football matches, and Iran's foreign policy.

More recently, the 35-year-old shared a message of sympathy for Amini, and also called for an end to the violence the nation's authorities have displayed towards Iran's western Kurdish region.

"Stop killing Kurdish people!!!" Ghafouri wrote on Twitter.

"Kurds are Iran itself… Killing Kurds is equal to killing Iran. If you are indifferent to the killing of people, you are not an Iranian and you are not even a human being… All tribes are from Iran. Do not kill people!!!"

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His arrest is said to have taken place ahead of Iran's World Cup match against Wales on Friday afternoon, with some believing it to be an ominous message to the country's national team footballers.

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