26-year-old soccer player Amir Nasr-Azadani has been sentenced to death by hanging after joining in the widespread protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini.
22-year-old Amini died on 16 September after being arrested for wearing a hijab improperly. The Iranian government claimed she died of a heart attack but numerous witnesses reported she was severely beaten by police and died as a result of her injuries.
Her death sparked the most widespread Iranian protests against the government since at least 2009. Most have been led by women, with many publicly cutting their hair or removing their hijabs in protest of Iran's restrictive female dress code and its enforcement by the morality police: headscarves have been compulsory, and periodically protested, since 1983, but enforcement has increased since hardliner Ebrahim Raisi became president last year.
More broadly, protesters are demanding women's rights and reform of the Iranian government, which has been globally condemned for its human rights violations.
In the recent protests over 18,000 people have been arrested and nearly 500 killed by the Iranian government. The slogan of the movement is simply 'Woman, Life, Freedom.'
Nasr-Azadani is one of the 28 people sentenced to death so far; 3 of the others are children. Originally arrested in November in connection with the murder of a police colonel, Nasr-Azadani has been convicted of 'waging war against God.'
Many, including the International Federation of Professional Footballers, have spoken out in support of Nasr-Azadani and the others arrested.
FIFPRO is shocked and sickened by reports that professional footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani faces execution in Iran 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. pic.twitter.com/vPuylCS2ph
— FIFPRO (@FIFPRO) December 12, 2022
Others have called for the banning of Iran from all international competition until his release.