The global soccer players’ union, FIFPRO, said it is “shocked and sickened” by reports that Iranian soccer player Amir Nasr-Azadani faces the possibility of execution “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,” FIFPRO said in a statement posted on Twitter on Monday.
Nasr-Azadani has been accused of being a member of an “armed group” that was involved in the death of three security officers during protests in the city of Esfahan in central Iran, said the city’s chief justice Asadullah Jafari, according to state news agency IRNA on Sunday.
In the report, Jafari said Nasr-Azadani had been charged with rioting against authorities. He has been in custody since November 27, but no sentence has been issued yet for the accused, the report added.
It’s unclear when his trial is scheduled to begin.
Anti-government protests have raged in Iran since September, sparked initially by the case of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being apprehended by the state’s morality police for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly.
Public anger over Amini’s death has combined with a range of grievances against the Islamic Republic’s oppressive regime to fuel the demonstrations even in the face of harsh punishments, and possibly the death sentence.
The 26-year-old footballer, from the historic city of Esfahan, had played for the Iranian professional football clubs Rah-Ahan, Tractor and Gol Reyhan, reported London-based activist outlet IranWire.
Under Iran’s penal code, his sentence could carry the death penalty if proven that the accused had used a firearm, otherwise he could be sentenced to prison.
Iran executed a second man allegedly involved in the nationwide protest movement after he was convicted of fatally stabbing two security officials last month, Mizan Online, a news agency affiliated with Iran’s judiciary, and the semi-official Tasmin news agency reported on Monday.
That followed the execution of another man last Thursday, in the first known execution since protests began.