Iran arrests former international football player

Iran arrests former international football player

PARIS - Iran arrested a former international football player of Kurdish origin who supported the protests that have rocked the country since September, news agencies said.

Voria Ghafouri, an outspoken figure who had appeared for Iran 28 times up to 2019, was arrested after a club training session over accusations that he spread propaganda against the Islamic republic.

He is one of the prominent figures arrested in a wide-scale crackdown on protests, amid intense scrutiny of the conduct of the national team at the World Cup in Qatar.

The team didn't sing the national anthem at their first match against England on Monday.

Rights groups have said that dozens have been killed over the last week over the extent of the authorities' crackdown in western Kurdish areas of Iran, from where Ghafouri hails, and there are concerns that dozens have been killed over the last week alone.

Ghafouri was arrested after a training session with his club Foolad Khuzestan on charges of tarnishing the reputation of the national team and spreading propaganda against the state, the Fars new agency said.

Hengaw, a Kurdish-focused rights group based in Norway, said he had been arrested, posting a picture of the player in traditional Kurdish dress.

The ex-Iran international footballer Ali Karimi, another outspoken supporter of the protests, also posted a photo of Ghafouri on his Twitter account in support of the player.

He wrote for the honourable Voria.