DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran arrested a outstanding former member of its nationwide soccer crew on Thursday over his criticism of the federal government as authorities grapple with nationwide protests which have forged a shadow over its competitors on the World Cup.The semiofficial Fars and Tasnim information companies reported that Voria Ghafouri was arrested for “insulting the nationwide soccer crew and propagandizing towards the federal government.”Ghafouri, who was not chosen to go to the World Cup, has been an outspoken critic of Iranian authorities all through his profession. He objected to a longstanding ban on ladies spectators at males’s soccer matches in addition to Iran’s confrontational international coverage, which has led to crippling Western sanctions.Extra lately, he expressed sympathy for the household of a 22-year-old lady whose demise whereas within the custody of Iran’s morality police ignited the newest protests. In current days he additionally referred to as for an finish to a violent crackdown on protests in Iran’s western Kurdistan area.The stories of his arrest got here forward of Friday’s World Cup match between Iran and Wales. At Iran’s opening match, a 6-2 loss to England, the members of the Iranian nationwide crew declined to sing alongside to their nationwide anthem and a few followers expressed assist for the protests.The protests had been ignited by the Sept. 16 demise of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish lady arrested by the morality police within the capital, Tehran. They quickly escalated into nationwide demonstrations calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. The western Kurdish area of the nation, the place each Amini and Ghafouri are from, has been the epicenter of the protests. Retailers had been closed within the area on Thursday following requires a basic strike.Iranian officers haven’t mentioned whether or not Ghafouri’s activism was a consider not selecting him for the nationwide crew. He performs for the Khuzestan Foolad crew within the southwestern metropolis of Ahvaz. The membership’s chairman, Hamidreza Garshasbi, resigned in a while Thursday, the semiofficial ILNA information company reported, with out elaborating.The protests present no signal of waning, and mark one of many largest challenges to Iran’s ruling clerics for the reason that 1979 Islamic Revolution that introduced them to energy. Rights teams say safety forces have used unleashed stay ammunition and chicken shot on the protesters, in addition to beating and arresting them, with a lot of the violence captured on video.No less than 442 protesters have been killed and greater than 18,000 detained for the reason that begin of the unrest, in keeping with Human Rights Activists in Iran, a gaggle that has been monitoring the protests.The U.N. Human Rights Council voted Thursday to sentence the crackdown and to create an unbiased fact-finding mission to analyze alleged abuses, significantly these dedicated towards ladies and kids.Authorities have blamed the unrest on hostile international powers, with out offering proof, and say separatists and different armed teams have attacked safety forces. Human Rights Activists in Iran says a minimum of 57 safety personnel have been killed, whereas state media have reported a better toll.The protesters say they’re fed up after many years of social and political repression, together with a strict costume code imposed on ladies. Younger ladies have performed a number one function within the protests, stripping off the obligatory Islamic scarf to precise their rejection of clerical rule.Some Iranians are actively rooting towards their very own crew on the World Cup, associating it with rulers they view as violent and corrupt. Others insist the nationwide crew, which incorporates gamers who’ve spoken out on social media in solidarity with the protests, represents the nation’s individuals. The crew’s star ahead, Sardar Azmoun, who has been vocal concerning the protests on-line, was on the bench through the opening match. Along with Ghafouri, two different former soccer stars have been arrested for expressing assist for the protests.Different Iranian athletes have additionally been drawn into the wrestle. Iranian rock climber Elnaz Rekabi competed with out sporting the obligatory scarf at a world competitors in South Korea in October, a transfer broadly seen as expressing assist for the protests. She obtained a hero’s welcome from protesters upon returning to Iran, at the same time as she advised state media the transfer was “unintentional” in an interview that will have been given beneath duress. Earlier this month, Iran’s soccer federation threatened to punish gamers on its seashore soccer crew after it defeated Brazil at a world competitors in Dubai. One of many gamers had celebrated after scoring a objective by mimicking a feminine protester slicing off her hair.