26-year-old professional soccer player may face execution in Iran for protesting government

Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 3:27 PM CST
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(CNN) – A soccer player from Iran may face execution for participating in ongoing anti-government protests in the country, according to reports.

The global soccer players’ union, FIFPRO, says it’s “shocked and sickened” by the reports that Amir Nasr-Azadani, a 26-year-old professional soccer player, could be executed.

“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,” FIFPRO wrote in a tweet. “We stand in solidarity with Amir and call for the immediate removal of his punishment.”

He’s played for several major soccer clubs in Iran.

Nasr-Azadani was detained on Nov. 27. He is accused of being a member of an “armed group” that was involved in the death of three security officers during protests in Iran, according to state news agency IRNA.

But activists say these allegations are false. They claim Nasr-Azadani is a victim of sham trial proceedings that have already led to the execution of two other protesters in the last few days.

On Monday, a 23-year-old protester was publicly hanged from a crane. Four days earlier, another 23-year-old protester was executed at a prison.

Nasr-Azadani’s case isn’t the first time soccer players have been seen in the crosshairs of the Iranian government. A shocking moment at the World Cup saw Iran’s team refusing to sing their national anthem. According to activists, their families were later threatened by authorities.