A record-breaking Iranian footballer who criticized the authorities’ crackdown on anti-government protesters has said his family was prevented from leaving the country.
Ali Dai, who scored 109 international goals for Iran, the most for any country before breaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s record, said his wife and daughter were questioned by authorities when They were flying.
The former footballer said he legally departed from the Iranian capital, Tehran, before his plane made an unscheduled stop on the Persian Gulf island of Kish.
Dai, 53, said her daughter was released but by then the plane’s doors had been closed. He said his family was planning to go to Dubai and return next week.
He has public support. Anti-government protests which erupted after the death of a woman in police custody.
His passport was briefly confiscated after he returned home earlier this year.
On social media, the former team captain urged the government to “solve the problems of the Iranian people instead of coercion, torture and arrests”.
Flight-tracking website Flightradar24 diverted Mahan Air Flight W563 to Cash Island before heading to Dubai a few hours later.
Both the airline and Iranian officials declined to comment.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency, considered close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said Dai’s wife had been banned from traveling earlier this month because of her support for the protests.
His wife tried to illegally circumvent the ban, saying her final destination was the United States, without providing further details.
Dye scored more international goals than anyone else before he stopped playing and started managing his country instead.
Ronaldo broke Die’s record last year and remains the world leader with 118 international goals for Portugal.
Die is second with 109, followed by Argentina’s Lionel Messi with 98.
He is one of several Iranian public figures to support recent protests against Islamic theocracy.
Nationwide protests erupted in September over the death of Mehsa Amini, 22, who was arrested for wearing “inappropriate clothing” under Iran’s interpretation of the Islamic dress code.
Amir Nasr Azadani, 26, footballer, Faces the death penalty. To participate in nationwide protests
Officials have blamed recent unrest on foreign adversaries such as the United States and Israel.
The paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said on Sunday that it Arrested seven people involved in the protests, which had direct links to the UK..
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