Woriya Ghafuri, a defender for the Khuzestan Foolad football team, was also arrested on charges of “dishonorable and offensive behavior towards the Iranian national football team.”
“Ghafuri reacted strongly to the recent riots and incited them,” the state-run Fars news agency reported.
London-based opposition news agency Iran International reported that the star footballer was sacked in June from his previous team, Esteghlal FC, for criticizing the government in May, when he chided it for “the way it handled the protests caused by the sudden price increase”.
Iranian authorities criticized Ghafuri over protests earlier in the year sparked by a spike in food prices after the government cut government subsidies, pushing spending up to 300% in some cases.
Since then, national demonstrations against the regime have swept through Iran, sparked by death Mahsa Amini in September, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman was detained by the country’s morality police for allegedly not wearing the hijab properly.
The demonstrations shed light on long-standing grievances of the country’s authorities. Kurdish minoritywhom the security forces have targeted in their brutal crackdown on dissent in Iran.
Ghafuri hails from Sanandaj, Iran’s second-largest Kurdish city, according to the Norwegian-based Hengaw Organization for Human Rights.
Ghafuri joins a group of Iranian athletes who have spoken out in support of a national uprising.
Former Iranian goalkeeper Parviz Borumand was arrested last week for destroying public property in Tehran during a November 15 protest, Tasnim reported.
Borumand, 47, played for Persepolis and Esteghlal before retiring in 2007 to focus on social work and humanitarian work. Before his arrest, he openly supported protesters in Iran on his social media.
Former Iranian footballer Ali Karimi expressed his support for Gafuri and Borumand after their arrest. “To the Honorable Ghafuri,” Karimi tweeted on Thursday, along with a photo of Ghafuri dressed in Kurdish attire.
Karimi, who now lives outside of Iran, has come under intense scrutiny from the Iranian government since late September for declaring his support for the protesters.
in november archer Parmida Ghasemi showed her support for the anti-government protests by removing her hijab during an awards ceremony in Tehran. Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi competed in South Korea without the mandatory hijab the previous month, later claiming that it had accidentally fallen off. However, it was not clear if Rekabi’s comments were made under duress.