As Iran plays in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a former member of its national soccer team has been arrested for being critical of the Iranian government. 

Voria Ghafouri, who was not selected as a member of Iran’s 2022 World Cup team, was arrested Thursday for “insulting the national soccer team and propagandizing against the government,” according to the Associated Press. 

Esteghlal’s defender Voria Ghafouri, right, is marked by Ahli’s forward Abdulrahman Ghareeb, left, during the AFC Champions League Group C match between Saudi’s Al-Ahli and Iran’s Esteghlal on April 27, 2021, at the King Abdullah sport city stadium in the Saudi city of Jeddah. 
(AFP via Getty Images)

Ghafouri has recently expressed support for the family of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while in the custody of Iranian authorities. 

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Her death has sparked nation-wide protests calling for the end of the Islamic Republic government. 

Ghafouri’s arrest came one day before Iran defeated Wales 2-0 to earn its first win of the 2022 World Cup. 

Voria Ghafouri, then an Iranian national soccer team player, right, fights for the ball with Iraqi midfielder Hussein Ali, during the AFC Asian Cup soccer match at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 16, 2019. The semiofficial Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, that Iran arrested Ghafouri, a prominent former member of its national soccer team for insulting the national soccer team, which is currently playing in the World Cup, and criticizing the government as authorities grapple with nationwide protests.

Voria Ghafouri, then an Iranian national soccer team player, right, fights for the ball with Iraqi midfielder Hussein Ali, during the AFC Asian Cup soccer match at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 16, 2019. The semiofficial Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, that Iran arrested Ghafouri, a prominent former member of its national soccer team for insulting the national soccer team, which is currently playing in the World Cup, and criticizing the government as authorities grapple with nationwide protests.
(AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

In their opening game against England – a 6-2 loss – Iranian players did not sing the country’s national anthem in an apparent show of support for protesters. 

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The national team sang the national anthem on Friday, linking arms before the match. 

Iran scored two goals in stoppage time, shocking Wales with goals in the 98th minute and 101st minute. 

Iran's players celebrate winning the World Cup Group B soccer match against Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. 

Iran’s players celebrate winning the World Cup Group B soccer match against Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

“We are gutted, there is no other way to say it,” Wales captain Gareth Bale told the BBC after the match. “We fought until the last second and we need to go again.

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“We are all gutted but we have to pick ourselves up straight away. It is going to be difficult for us for sure. We will have to see.”

Iran now has three points in Group B and is looking to advance to the knockout round of the World Cup for the first time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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