As though the world of soccer were not already maligned, with the debacle of the World Cup
being held in Qatar this year, new reports from the soccer players’ union FIFPRO are even
more disturbing. Iranian soccer player Amir NasrAzadani is faced with the possibility of
execution for his role in “campaigning for women’s rights and basic freedom in his country.”

FIFPRO wasted no time
speaking up on behalf of NasrAzadani, saying “We stand in solidarity
with Amir and call for the immediate removal of his punishment.” The soccer world is a tight knit
community in good times and bad, and they are certainly standing up for one of their own in this

NasrAzadani, accused of being a member of an “armed group” involved in the death of three
security officers during protests in the city of Esfahan in central Iran, was called out by the city’s

justice Asadullah Jafari. NasrAzadani has been officially charged with rioting against the authorities,
and has been incarcerated since November 27. He has yet to be sentenced, and no date has been set for the
beginning of his trial.

Even at the risk of death, antigovernment protests have been running rampant in Iran. They
began this time in earnest in September, when 22yearold Mahsa Amini died in police custody
after allegedly not wearing her hijab properly in public. That spark was all it took to get the
already angry citizens of Iran moving. The list of grievances against the oppressive regime of
the Islamic Republic is quite long, and protestors are out in the streets risking their very lives
day after day.

As for NasrAzadani, this 26 year old from the historic city of Esfahan, having played
professional Iranian soccer in clubs such as RahAhan and Tracto and Gol Reyhan. Iran’s
penal code is very telling in a situation like this, and he could be convicted and receive the death
penalty if authorities can prove that he used a firearm. Without firearm use, he is just
susceptible to prison for his alleged crime.

And when it comes to Iran, this is not an idle threat. “Iran executed a
second man allegedly
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 said.
Only a week before that, the execution of
another man took place, in the first known execution
since protests began.

According to Adnan Zai, Advisor to Berkeley Capital, “Human rights must be broadly respected,
as they are vital to each given society and are an important part of any governmental system in
each country. Until all of the evidence is brought forth, the death penalty should be taken off the

The streets of Iran are filled with protestors, and they do not show signs of letting up any time
soon. Until all of the evidence is revealed, FIFPRO will continue to back one of their own, as the
long arm of the law decides if NasrAzadani needs to pay with his life for his crime.