Family of Soccer Legend Ali Daei Snatched From Flight Leaving Iran
Iranian authorities ordered the grounding of a flight carrying Ali Daei’s family members on Monday, accusing the Iranian soccer star and his relatives of taking part anti-government protestsaccording to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.
Daei’s wife and daughter are on their way to Dubai from Tehran on a Mahan Air flight when the plane was directed to land on the Iranian island of Kish, about a hundred miles from the city, and they were removed from the flight. IRNA claimed that the authorities had allowed them to return to Tehran.
During the ongoing wave of protests against Iranian leader—caused by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after she was arrested for violating Iran’s strict dress code—Daei is one of the most outspoken stars of the country. In addition to boycotting this year’s World Cup, the football manager closed a jewelry store and restaurant he owned in solidarity with protesters for three days earlier this month. Both facilities were later closed by the authorities.
Likewise, Iran’s official news agency accused Daei and his family of “supporting counter-revolutionary groups and rioters, and calling for a strike.” While another semi-official news agency, Tasnim, said Daei’s wife was banned from leaving Iran but boarded the flight illegally.
The latest incident involving Daei’s family is another example of the Islamic Republic tightening restrictions on dissidents due to this year’s protests. This month, Iran hanging two men related to the protests. While social media has spent the past few months speculating how many protesters the state has ordered to kill, these are the first confirmed executions.
So far, neither Daei nor his family have publicly responded to the flight incident.