Iranian footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani is reportedly facing execution for campaigning for women's rights in the Islamic country. According to reports, Nasr-Azadani and two others accused were made to read a "forced confession" on state television last month, following which they were convicted of waging war against the country.
Footballers' union FIFPRO, the worldwide representative organization for 65,000 professional footballers, said on Monday night that it is shocked and has called for the punishment to be revoked. There have been widespread anti-government demonstrations in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died while in detention in September after being arrested for allegedly violating the nation's Islamic dress code.
In Queue to Get Killed
Condemning the decision to execute Nasr-Azadani, FIFPRO on Monday tweeted: "FIFPRO is shocked and sickened by reports that professional footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani faces execution in Iran after campaigning for women's rights and basic freedom in his country."
"We stand in solidarity with Amir and call for the immediate removal of his punishment."
According to IranWire, Nasr-Azadani and two other suspects appeared on official television on November 20 and read a "forced" confession. According to the confession, Iranian footballer Nasr-Azadani, who has previously played for the sides Rah-Ahan, Tractor, and Gol-e Rayhan, was present during the protests, the outlet reported.
However, it is claimed that he was never close to the scene of Cheraghi and the two Basij members' deaths. The source also said that all he did during the protests was chant slogans for a short period of time.
The Iranian national football team at the World Cup staged its own protest by declining to perform the national anthem before their debut match against England on November 21.
Ahead of the clash, captain Ehsan Hajsafi had said: "We have to accept the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy. We are here but it does not mean we should not be their voice or we must not respect them.
"Whatever we have is from them. We have to fight. We have to perform and score some goals to present the brave people of Iran with a result. I hope conditions change as to the expectations of the people."
Turmoil in Iran
The Islamic Republic hanged a man in the open on Monday after he was found guilty of killing two security forces personnel, official television reported. This was the second protester executed in less than a week.
"Majid Reza Rahnavard was hanged in public in (the holy Shi'ite city of) Mashhad this morning... He was sentenced to death for 'waging war against God' after stabbing to death two members of the security forces," the judiciary's Mizan news agency reported.
Rahnavard was seen in photographs taken by Mizan during the dawn execution hanging from a construction crane with his hands, feet, and head bound.
On Monday, the U.S. State Department denounced Iran for the death of Rahnavard.
"We denounce this draconian treatment in the strongest terms. These harsh sentences and now the first public execution... are meant to intimidate Iran's people. They're meant to suppress dissent," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.
Mohsen Shekari, who had been found guilty of stabbing a security guard and obstructing traffic in Tehran, was executed by hanging on Thursday. After thousands of arrests due to the protests, it was the first such execution, prompting a chorus of Western outrage and sanctions.