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Iran: Top football player arrested for criticising the Tehran regime

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Iran arrested a prominent former member of its national football team on Thursday over his criticism of the government.The Tehran authorities have been grappling with nationwide protests for several months that have now cast a shadow over its participation at the World Cup.

Voria Ghafouri was arrested for "insulting the national football team and propagandising against the government," the Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported.Ghafouri, who was not chosen to go to the World Cup, has been an outspoken critic of Iranian authorities throughout his career.

He objected to a longstanding ban on women spectators at men's football matches as well as Iran's confrontational foreign policy, which has led to crippling Western sanctions.More recently, he expressed sympathy for the family of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman whose death while in the custody of Iran's morality police ignited the latest protests.

In recent days he also called for an end to a violent crackdown on protests in Iran's western Kurdistan region.The reports of his arrest came ahead of Friday's World Cup match between Iran and Wales.

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