Furiya Ghafouri: An Iranian Kurdish soccer player was arrested on charges of incitement against the regime


An Iranian Kurdish soccer player has been arrested for “inciting against the regime” as Tehran cracks down on anti-government protesters, according to the state-aligned news agency, Tasim.

Foria Ghafouri, who plays a defender for the Khuzestan Foolad soccer team, was also arrested for “shameful and insulting behavior towards the Iranian national soccer team.”

The state-affiliated Fars news agency reported that “Al-Ghafouri received some harsh reactions for supporting rioters recently and was inciting them.”

The London-based opposition news agency Iran International News said the soccer star was sacked in June from his former team, Esteghlal, for criticizing the government in May when he criticized it for its “handling of protests sparked by a sudden price hike”.

Iranian authorities criticized Ghafouri in connection with the protests earlier in the year, which were sparked by a rise in food prices after the government cut state subsidies causing costs to rise by 300% in some cases.

Since then, Iran has been engulfed by patriotic anti-regime demonstrations sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman who was detained by the country’s morality police for allegedly not wearing a headscarf properly.

The demonstrations highlighted longstanding grievances held by the country’s Kurdish minority, who have been targeted by security forces in their brutal crackdown on dissent in Iran.

Ghafouri hails from Sanandaj, the second largest Kurdish city in Iran, according to the Norway-based human rights group Hengau.

Ghafouri, pictured in June 2021, is part of Iran's Kurdish minority, which has been targeted by the government in its crackdown on anti-regime dissent.

Ghafouri joins a slew of Iranian athletes who have spoken out in support of the national uprising.

The former Iranian national team goalkeeper, Parviz Borumand, was arrested last week on charges of destroying public property in Tehran during a protest on November 15, according to Tasnim.

Borumand, 47, played for Persepolis Football Club and Esteghlal before retiring in 2007 to focus on social activism and humanitarian work. He was outspoken in his support for the protesters in Iran on his social media channels prior to his arrest.

Former Iranian soccer player Ali Karimi announced his support for Ghafouri and Promand after their arrest. Karimi wrote on Twitter on Thursday, along with a photo of Ghafouri, dressed in Kurdish dress, “for the honor of Ghafouri.”

Karimi, who now lives outside of Iran, has been under intense scrutiny from the Iranian government for declaring his support for the protesters since late September.

In November, archer Parmida Ghasemi showed her support for anti-government protests by removing her headscarf during an award ceremony in Tehran. Iranian climber Elnaz Rakabi had competed in South Korea without her mandatory headscarf the previous month, and later said it fell by mistake. However, it was not clear if Rekabi’s statements were made under duress.

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