Search icon


13th Dec 2022

Iranian footballer sentenced to execution because he ‘campaigned for women’s rights’

Charlie Herbert

Iranian footballer faces execution

Players’ union FifPro has called for the ‘immediate removal of his punishment’

FifPro has said it is “shocked and saddened” by reports that an Iranian footballer is facing execution amid anti-government protests in Iran.

There have been widespread anti-government protests in Iran sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in September. The 22-year-old died in custody after having been detained for allegedly failing to follow the country’s Islamic dress code.

Now, reports have emerged that 26-year-old Iranian footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani is facing execution after “campaigning for women’s rights and basic freedom in his country.”

On Monday (December 12), the football players’ union FifPro tweeted its shock at the news, and called for the “immediate removal of his punishment.”

The union said: “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.

“We stand in solidarity with Amir and call for the immediate removal of his punishment.”

At the World Cup in Qatar, the Iran team stood silent when the national anthem was played prior to their 6-2 defeat to England on November 21, something that was interpreted as a show of support for the anti-government protests in their country.

Nasr-Azadani played for Persian Gulf Pro League side Tractor between 2016 and 2018, after a short season-long spell with Rah Ahan in 2015-16. The 26-year-old defender has not played professionally since his last appearance in November 2017.

So far, two men have been executed for their actions during protests.

On Thursday morning, Mohsen Shekari was hanged after being found guilty by a Revolutionary Court of “moharebeh” (enmity against God), state media said.

He was accused of being a “rioter” who blocked a main road in Tehran in September and wounded a member of a paramilitary force with a machete.

And on Monday, the Mizan news agency reported that a second man had been publicly executed in the last week.

Majid Reza Rahnavard had been sentenced to execution after being convicted of killing two members of the Iranian security forces.

The BBC reports that he was hanged in the city of Mashhad “for ‘waging war against God’ after stabbing to death two members of the security forces.”

The United States State Department condemned Iran for Rahnavard’s execution.

State department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday: “We denounce this draconian treatment in the strongest terms. These harsh sentences and now the first public execution… are meant to intimidate Iran’s people. They’re meant to suppress dissent.”

According to Amnesty International, Iranian authorities are trying to sentence at least 21 people to death in “sham trials designed to intimidate those participating in the popular uprising that has rocked Iran”.

Related links: