‘Threats’ to Iranian football legend Ali Daei after his support for protests

PARIS: Iranian soccer legend Ali Daei announced on Monday he received threats after he backed protests that erupted in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini. Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish, died on September 16, three days after she was arrested by the morality police in Tehran for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. Daei (52 years old) was the top scorer in the history of the national teams for many years with 109 goals, until he was surpassed by Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo in September 2021. He decided not to go to the World Cup in Qatar due to the violent crackdown launched by the Iranian authorities against protesters. “I have received several threats against me and my family in the past months and days from some organizations, media and unfamiliar people,” Daei said in a statement she posted on Instagram. She added, “I learned humanity, honor, patriotism and freedom… What do you want to achieve with such threats?” Daei also called for the “unconditional release” of prisoners arrested during the crackdown on protests in Iran. Daei announced earlier this month that he would not be traveling in Qatar to participate in the World Cup, although he was invited by the organizers. He said he wanted to be with his fellow countrymen and my sympathy goes out to all those who lost loved ones in the repression in course. His comments come as Iran prepares for a match against the United States on Tuesday, a repeat of their 1998 fixture, as Team Melli looks to reach the finals of the World Cup for the first time in its history. Football is under close scrutiny in light of the protests in course in Iran, which posed the biggest challenge to the regime since the 1979 revolution. Daei’s passport was confiscated upon his return in Iran during prime stages of the protests, but it was later returned to him. Prominent footballer Furiya Ghafuri, of Kurdish origin, was arrested last week after declaring his outspoken support for the protests. According to reports from the media Iranians, was released on bail. But the Kurdish human rights organization based in Norway Henkau denied this, and said he was transferred from western Iran in a prison in Tehran. (AFP)