Reza Shekari

Iranian Football Player Suspended For Solidarity With Protesters

Tuesday, 01/24/2023

An Iranian football player has been banned from playing for his team after he refused to celebrate a winning match, saying the people of Iran are in mourning.

Reza Shekari, 24, a member of Gol Gohar club, who scored one of the goals against another team on Saturday, told reporters that he did not express happiness after scoring the goal because of the situation in the country and in respect to people who mourn those killed during antigovernment protests.

He was summoned for his comments by the disciplinary committee of the Iranian Football Federation to be suspended.

He also emphasized that he and his teammates are "forced to play football" these days.

Within the past few days, some reports said Iran’s football federation has put pressure on players to celebrate after scoring goals as is the routine in soccer. However, the federation denied the reports.

Earlier documents received by Iran International revealed that the ministry of sports in a letter had asked sports federations to prevent the symbolic gestures by athletes who support the protests.

In the past 4 months, Iranian athletes at different levels have joined the nationwide protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Athletes by refusing to show happiness after scoring goals, not singing the anthem of the Islamic Republic, and other symbolic gestures have shown solidarity with protesters.

The European Union on Monday sanctioned Iran’s Sports Minister Hamid Sajjadi for suppressing athletes. In its statement the EU said Sajjadi has prevented Iranian athletes from speaking against the suppression of protests.

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