Iran Stops Family of Beloved National Athlete From Leaving

Soccer great Ali Daei says wife and daughter were forced to disembark from plane
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2022 1:33 PM CST
Soccer Great's Family Prevented From Leaving Iran
Iranian soccer legend and former national team coach and soccer star Ali Daei is shown arriving at a match in 2009. Daei has faced recriminations for his support of protesters in Iran. His wife and daughter were reportedly prevented from leaving the country.   (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

The wife and daughter of Iranian soccer legend Ali Daei were prevented from leaving Iran Monday. Per CNN, a Dubai-bound flight out of Tehran was ordered to land on the Iranian island of Kish, where the two were ordered to disembark, though they were not arrested. According to state news agency IRNA, Daei’s family "hadn’t informed authorities of their decision to leave despite being ordered to do so." That article was later retracted and neither Iranian nor airline authorities replied to requests for comment. Another news outlet, Tasnim, reported that Daei’s family was bound for the United States; however, per the BBC, Daei himself said they "were going to Dubai for a few days trip and back."

The 53-year-old also said he didn't know his family was banned from leaving. "Had they been banned, the passport police system should have shown it," Daei said, adding, "No one has given me an answer about this." Daei has faced recriminations for his support of violent protests that have gripped the nation for months and left more than 500 dead. In September, Daei wrote on social media that the Iranian government should "solve the problems of the Iranian people rather than using repression, violence, and arrests."

According to Al Jazeera, Daei's jewelry store and restaurant were shuttered by authorities in December due to his "cooperation with anti-revolutionary groups in cyberspace to disrupt peace." Out of solidarity with the protesters, Daei also refused to attend this year’s FIFA World Cup, where his presence would certainly have been noticed. He’s easily one of Iran’s most famous players, though he gained fame as a striker in the German Bundesliga. He held the record for most international goals (109) until Cristiano Ronaldo came along. (Read more Iran stories.)

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