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Iran Soccer Star’s Family Prevented from Leaving Country After Protesting Against Regime

Former Iran's national soccer team coach Ali Daei before an Asian Cup 2011 qualifying soccer match between Iran and Singapore in Tehran, Iran, Jan 14, 2009. AP
Former Iran’s national soccer team coach Ali Daei before an Asian Cup 2011 qualifying soccer match between Iran and Singapore in Tehran, Iran, Jan 14, 2009. AP

Iran’s government blocked the departure of a prominent anti-regime former soccer player on Monday after their plane stopped en route to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“The regime has a fixation on celebrities and their families,” Lisa Daftari, a Middle East expert and editor-in-chief of the Foreign Desk, told Fox News Digital. “They are targeting them in the most severe ways in order to make an example of them.”

“What’s extraordinary about the will of the Iranian people is that they have not been deterred by these symbolic attacks,” she added. “On the contrary, as the weeks go by, we are seeing more high profile celebrities, athletes, musicians and influencers risking their lives by supporting the Iranian people publicly.”

Ali Daei, a former Iranian player who spent some of his career in Germany and most recently coached teams across Iran, said his wife and daughter were traveling from Tehran, Iran to Dubai when their plane made an unplanned stop on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf, where authorities questioned them. The authorities released his daughter, but the flight would not let her board again.

Daei is one of several celebrities in the country to speak out against the government following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini and the resulting 102 days of continued protests calling for change. Other Iranian soccer players, including Voria Ghafouri and Amir Nasr-Azadani, have spoken out against the government and faced charges for opposing the regime.

Related Story: Protest Backing Soccer Star’s Family Kept from Leaving Iran

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