Iranian footballer Voria Ghafouri arrested during World Cup investigation

Iranian footballer Voria Ghafouri arrested during World Cup investigation

Iranian footballer Voria Ghafouri arrested during World Cup investigation

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

The player, Voria Ghafouri, is a former member of Iran’s national squad 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 nationwide uprising in Iran that has been ongoing for several months.

Iran’s World Cup team quietly nods 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 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 that some were holding.

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

The UN Human Rights Council in a voice 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 HRC’s membership 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 repression of the Iranian people are identified and their actions documented,” USA This is what Foreign Minister Antony Blinken says in a statement.

Rights groups say Iran is escalating attacks in Kurdish areas

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

He has been called up to play several times over the past decade for the national team, playing for several Iranian club teams including Foolad Khuzestan, his current team. ISNA, a semi-official news agency, reported on Thursday that Hamidreza Garshasbi, the team’s chief executive, had resigned, saying the reason for his resignation had not yet been announced.

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

Iran will play Wales on Friday.

World Cup in Qatar

Live Updates: The last eight teams to debut in Qatar take the field on Thursday in Group G and Group H matches. Stay tuned for the latest news, updates and highlights.

USMNT: Returning to the World Cup, the young Americans settled for a 1-1 draw with Wales in their Group B opener. The U.S. men’s national team will face a bigger task Friday against Group B favorite England, which demolished Iran, 6-2, earlier Monday.

Qatar Controversy: Soccer fans wearing the rainbow, a symbol of LGBTQ inclusion, have said they were denied entry to World Cup stadiums and confronted by the crowd for removing the emblem.

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

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