Ali Daei rejects Qatar invitation in support of Iran’s protests

Tehran, Nov 15 (EFE).- Retired football player Ali Daei announced Tuesday that he had rejected Fifa’s invitation to attend the World Cup in Qatar as a sign of solidarity with the families that have lost their loved ones in the nationwide protests that have gripped his native Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini.

“In the days when most of us are not feeling well, I said no to the official invitation of Fifa and the Qatar Football Federation to attend the World Cup with my wife and daughters, to be with you in my country,” Daei wrote on his Twitter account.

“Hoping for bright days for Iran and Iranians,” he added.

For years, Daei was the world’s top international goal scorer with 109, a record that was beaten by Cristino Ronaldo in 2021.

Iran’s former national team captain is the latest public figure to join the list of national celebrities that have shown their support for the protests organized and led by young people and women under the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom.”

The social unrest in the country began on September 16 after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while being held in custody by the so-called morality police in Tehran for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly in accordance with the country’s strict Islamic dress code.

During the first weeks of the demonstrations, several football players showed their support for the protesters, as was the case in the Iran-Senegal match on September 27, when the Iranian players listened to the anthem while wearing black jackets covering up their official kits.

Earlier this month, football player Saeed Piramun celebrated scoring a goal against Brazil by mimicking cutting his hair, a gesture of support for the protests, in the final of the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Iran’s Football Federation threatened in an official statement last week to “deal” with those players who make political gestures on the basis of “regulations of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Olympic Charter of Ethics and the rules of the International Football Federation.”

The most notorious case of an athlete’s support for the protests was that of the climber Elnaz Rekabi, who competed in Seoul without a veil, later claiming that it was due to an accident

Hundreds of people welcomed her at Tehran airport with shouts of “champion”.

Iran Human Rights, an NGO based in Norway estimates that at least 326 people, including 43 minors, have been killed by security forces since the beginning of the unrest.EFE jlr/aef/jt

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