Iranwire - On Thursday, September 29, IRNA news agency reported that footballer Hossein Mahini had been arrested.
IRNA wrote: “Following claims that some celebrities had been encouraging mass protests, Hossein Mahini, a former player for Persepolis [football club], was arrested an hour ago following a judicial order.”
In the last two weeks, Mahini has posted multiple times on Twitter, voicing solidarity and support with the anti-government protests of the Iranian people against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Born in 1986, Mahini used to play for Esteghlal, Khuzestan, Zob-e Ahan, Persepolis, Malavan, and Saipa teams, and has played for the Iranian national team 26 times.
In May 2014, Jack Dorsey, the founder and former CEO of Twitter, congratulated Hossein Mahini on being the first famous Iranian football player to join Twitter.
Mahini has since used the platform to raise awareness of social and economic issues.
He even used Twitter to discuss the corruption of some Iranian sports managers. In October 2017, Mahini posted about the financial corruption of Mohammad Reza Davarzani, then the deputy minister of Sports and Youth.
Mahini was also one of the few Iranian footballers who, despite continuing to play professionally, issued a public reaction on Twitter following the nationwide protests of November 2019.
Following the news of Mahini's arrest, football coach and former player Ali Karimi posted a photo on his Instagram, showing his former co-star and the phrase “With Honor”.
There has been much public pressure on other footballers to show solidarity with Mahini, One Iranian social media user said: “When are the players of this team going to react to the arrest and detention of Hossein Mahini?”
On the national team, which was gathered recently at its training camp in Austria, only Sardar Azmoun, Alireza Biranvand and Majid Hosseini have so far made public comments on Iran’s mass protests. Azmoun was later forced to retract his comments and to apologize to his teammates.
After returning from the camp, player Alireza Jahanbakhsh claimed on his Instagram page that this silence was due to respect for the team's rules. Mehdi Taremi and Ehsan Hajsafi, other players on the team, made a similar claim.