PARIS The world union of professional footballers FIFPRO said it was “shocked and sickened” by the risk of Iranian footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani being sentenced to death in connection with protests which have shaken the country for three months.
Nasr-Azadani was arrested in the city of Isfahan two days after allegedly taking part in an “armed riot” in which three security agents were killed on September 16, Isfahan’s judiciary chief Abdullah Jafari said, quoted Sunday by Iran’s ISNA news agency.
Jafari said the 26-year-old had been accused of “rebellion, membership in illegal gangs, collusion to undermine security and therefore assisting in moharabeh” - or “emnity against God” - a capital crime in the Islamic republic.
“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,” the union wrote on its Twitter page late Monday.
“We stand in solidarity with Amir and call for the immediate removal of his punishment.”
In Tehran, courts in Tehran have sentenced 400 people to jail terms of up to 10 years over their involvement in protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death, Iran’s judiciary said Tuesday.
Up to 10 years in jail for 160 people
“In hearings on cases of rioters in Tehran province, 160 people were sentenced to between five and 10 years in prison, 80 people to two to five years and 160 people of up to two years,” Tehran’s judiciary chief Ali Alghasi-Mehr said, quoted by the judiciary’s Mizan Online website.
The Islamic republic has drawn widespread international condemnation after executing two men in the past week in connection with the unrest.
Majidreza Rahnavard and Mohsen Shekari, both 23, were hanged on Monday and Thursday respectively on the charges of “moharebeh” - or “enmity against God” under Iran’s Islamic sharia law.
Prior to the two executions, Iran’s judiciary said it had issued death sentences to 11 people over the protests, but campaigners say around a dozen others face charges that could see them also receive the death penalty.
Since September 16 when the protests broke out, thousands of people have been arrested. Iran’s top security body said on December 3 that more than 200 people had been killed in the unrest.
The alarm comes after a global outcry following the execution by Iran in the past days of two young men arrested over the protests.
Nasr-Azadani, who played at Under-16 level for the national team, began his football career with Tehran team Rah-Ahan, with whom he played for the first time in Iran’s top flight league.
The defender briefly played for Tractor SC under former Wales coach John Toshack and is currently at FC Iranjavan Bushehr.
Former Iranian international star Ali Karimi, a strong supporter of the protests, backed the footballer in a tweet, saying “Do not execute Amir”.
The Iranian national team took part in the World Cup in Qatar and staged their own protest by refusing to sing the national anthem in their opening match against England.
However, they rolled back to sing the anthem for subsequent matches against Wales and the USA.
Iran is facing protests sparked by the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd who died after she was arrested by morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.
According to Amnesty International, 11 people have been confirmed to have been sentenced to death over the protests and at least another nine, including Nasr-Azadani, risk being sentenced to death.
Iran calls the protests “riots” and says they have been encouraged by its foreign foes.
Prominent former international star Voria Ghafouri was arrested in Iran last month after he backed the protests and condemned the crackdown but was later released on bail.