Iranian footballer Voriya Ghafuri arrested during a check at the World Cup.

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A prominent Iranian footballer was arrested on Thursday on charges including damaging the reputation of the country’s World Cup national team, Iranian state media reported on Thursday.

Player Voria Ghafuri is a former member of the Iranian national team and a frequent critic of the government. His arrest comes at a time when Iranian footballers are under scrutiny for their claims of a nationwide uprising in Iran that has been going on for months.

Iran national football team silently nods at protests at home

Iran’s national team refused to sing during the national anthem during a match against England on Monday, in what many saw as a tacit acknowledgment of the protests. Iran’s national broadcaster showed selected images of viewers cheering for Iran during the match, but not the political posters carried by some.

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

United Nations Human Rights Council in vote launched on Thursday the study in alleged rights violations in Iran’s response to the protest movement. “Today’s meeting leaves no doubt that HRC members recognize the seriousness of the situation in Iran, and the fact-finding mission launched today will help ensure that those involved in the ongoing violent suppression of the Iranian people are identified and documented,” the US said. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement.

Human rights activists say Iran is stepping up crackdown on Kurdish areas

Ghafuri, a Kurd, has criticized government officials on social media in the past and recently tweeted messages condemning the killing of Kurds. Iranian news reports did not state the reasons for his arrest, but stated that the charges included “propaganda against” the Islamic Republic.

Over the past decade, he has been called up to play for the national team several times and has played for several Iranian club teams, including Foulad Khuzestan, its current squad. ISNA, the semi-official news agency, reported on Thursday that Hamidreza Garshasbi, the team’s CEO, has stepped down and said the reason for his resignation has yet to be announced.

Even before the start of the World Cup, some Iranians called on FIFA, football’s global governing body, to ban the national team, known as Team Melli, in a show of support for the protests. Others have argued that Iran’s participation in the World Cup was a boon for the uprising: a high-profile event that provided players and spectators with an opportunity to voice their disagreement with the international media.

Iran will play Wales on Friday.

World Cup in Qatar.

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