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June 23rd, 2009
02:12 PM ET

Iran bans election protest footballers

Ali Karimi during Iran's World Cup qualifying match in South Korea. Photograph: Lee Jae-Won/Reuters

Robert Tait
The Guardian

Their gesture attracted worldwide comment and drew the attention of football fans to Iran's political turmoil. Now the country's authorities have taken revenge by imposing life bans on players who sported green wristbands in a recent World Cup match in protest against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election.

According to the pro-government newspaper Iran, four players – Ali Karimi, 31, Mehdi Mahdavikia, 32, Hosein Ka'abi, 24 and Vahid Hashemian, 32 – have been "retired" from the sport after their gesture in last Wednesday's match against South Korea in Seoul.

They were among six players who took to the field wearing wristbands in the colour of the defeated opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, which has been adopted by demonstrators who believe the 12 June election was stolen.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Iran
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Robert, Scotland

    I am so stunned by this. Even sports, activities that are meant to bring people together, are being viciously torn apart. Sportsmen, though ambassadors for their nations, have rights just like everyone else.

    Article 23 of the Iranian Constitution:

    " ... no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief."

    June 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  2. Tim Gibson

    I do not think this type behavior is any different than what Iran has exhibited in the past and present, well beyond the supreme leader and even under the direction of the Shah.

    Extreme government control is the norm.

    June 23, 2009 at 5:36 pm |
  3. Lance, Carlsbad, CA

    Why don't the tyrants remove green from their flag while they are at it... morons.

    June 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  4. Derek

    The world community should do something, now, to help these young people.

    June 23, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  5. Kailyn

    Their names will never be forgotten. What they did was brave and selfless. They deserve respect for it.

    June 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  6. Isabel, Brazil

    Another example of the absurd story of the tyranny of Iran, where people can not disagree or express their views.

    The world can no longer live or attend this kind of tyranny. I hope the Iranian people win this war against oppression.

    June 23, 2009 at 3:47 pm |