Iran’s football authorities have vowed to deal with beach soccer players who showed solidarity with Iranian protesters during an international tournament this week.
Iran won the Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup on Sunday, beating Brazil in the final after Saeed Piramoon scored the winning goal.
After scoring, Piramoon imitated cutting his hair – a move signaling support for nationwide protests in the country by calling for greater freedoms for women.
It follows the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody after her arrest for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly.
Before the final game started, the Iranian players were seen not singing as the country’s national anthem was played.
“People who have not followed professional and sports ethics … will be dealt with according to the regulations,” a statement published by Iran’s Football Federation said.
“As per regulations of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Olympic Code of Ethics and the rules of FIFA, political behavior must be avoided in sports fields,” the statement said.
A video published on BBC Persian allegedly showed journalists blocked from speaking to the national team when they arrived back at the Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran. CNN could not verify the video.
Last month, Elnaz Rekabi, 33, competed without a hijab during the International Federation of Sport Climbing’s Asian Championships in Seoul. Videos of her wearing a headband with her hair in a ponytail while competing spread on social media.
Rekabi herself has suggested – both on her Instagram account and in interviews with state media IRNA – that she had only “accidentally” competed without her hijab, which Iran mandates must be worn by women representing the country abroad. However, it is unclear whether Rekabi’s comments were made under duress.
Handball player Sajjad Esteki, the women’s rugby captain Fereshteh Sarani, fencer Mojtaba Abedini Shourmasti and taekwondo star Mahsa Sadeghi, meanwhile, have all quit their national teams in protest against Iran’s government, and the well-respected former wrestler and Olympic gold medal winner Rasoul Khadem has voiced his support for all the athletes who have taken action.