Soccer

Iranian soccer players who wore green armbands in support of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi have been banned for life

6/23/09 in Soccer   |   100%InjuryRate   |   1283 respect

According to the pro-government newspaper Iran, four players – Ali Karimi, 31, Mehdi Mahdavikia, 32, Hosein Ka'abi, 24 and Vahid Hashemian, 32 – have been "retired" from the sport after their gesture in last Wednesday's match against South Korea in Seoul.

They were among six players who took to the field wearing wristbands in the color of the defeated opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, which has been adopted by demonstrators who believe the 12 June election was stolen.

Most of the players obeyed instructions to remove the armwear at half-time, but Mahdavikia wore his green captain's armband for the entire match. The four are also said to have been banned from giving media interviews.

The fate of the other two players who wore the wristbands is unknown. None of the team members were given back their passports upon returning to Tehran after the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw – a result that ended Iran's hopes of qualifying for next year's tournament.

Karimi is one of Iranian football's best-known stars, having played for the German club Bayern Munich. Ka'abi played for Leicester City for several months during the 2007/8 season. Hashemian and Mahdavikia play for the German teams Bochum and Eintracht Frankfurt.

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