Ehsan Hajsafi of AEK Athens has become the first Iranian football player to openly criticize the Iran government for alleged violation of fundamental human rights.
After Mahsa Amini died, sports stars and celebrities from Iran continuously raised concerns over Iran’s allegedly shrinking civil space.
Some have lent their voices and support to protests, calling for an end to gross human rights violations.
Iran’s national football team will take in the 2022 World Cup amidst growing protests back home following the death of Mahsa Amini. Amini, 22, died after the Iranian moral police arrested her.
Her demise has sparked outrage across the country, with massive protests rocking the nooks and crannies of the Arab state.
Amini reportedly died while in Police custody, and her death has been attributed to one of the numerous incidences of state-sponsored violence.
The ruling clerics in Iran see the protest as one of the most potent threats the ruling elites have confronted in decades.
As expected, they have reportedly adopted a reaction lay approach, clamping down on protesters and quelling the unrest with the necessary means of force possible.
According to reports, the violent crackdown has resulted in a heavy death toll, with 362 confirmed dead, including 56 children.
Amini’s death has been a rallying point for Iranian celebrities and sports endorsing the massive protests and voicing concerns over the alleged violations of citizens’ rights by the Iranian government.
Earlier this month, a group of current and former Iranian sports people announced they had no choice but to turn on their own country and demand that Iran be withdrawn from the World Cup.
And defender Ehsan Hajsafi became the first member of Iran’s national team to speak out from the World Cup in Doha in apparent support of anti-government protests at home.
Ehsan Hajsfi said the protesters “should know that we are with them. And we support them. And we sympathise with them regarding the conditions.”
The 32-year-old AEK Athens player said he has accepted that the conditions in his home country are dire and sympathetic.
Despite joining the World Cup in Qatar, Hajsfi said he and other players would continue to lend their voice and support to the protesters in solidarity with their plights.
Ehsan Hajsafi ( Born 25 February 1990) is an Iranian professional footballer who plays left-back for the Greek Super League club AEK Athens and captains the Iran national team.
Hajsafi is regarded as a utility player, being able to play as left midfielder, left-back, defensive midfielder, and winger.
In 2009, Hajsafi was selected by Goal.com as the most promising player in Asian football. He has represented Iran at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups and also 2011, 2015 and 2019 AFC Asian Cup tournaments, in addition to Sepahan at the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup.
Iran will take on England in their 2022 World Cup opener, and will be looking for their first win against a European opponent.
Although this has been their third consecutive appearance at the World Cup, Iran has been unimpressive in their World Cup campaigns and have not ever qualified from the Group stages