Iran reroutes flight, orders football legend Ali Daei’s family off
Iranian football legend Ali Daei, who has backed protests following Mahsa Amini’s death, said Monday an airplane from Tehran to Dubai had been rerouted and his family ordered off.
Protests have gripped Iran since the September 16 death of Iranian-Kurdish Amini, 22, after her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women. Tehran generally calls the protests “riots”.
Daei, 53, a former German Bundesliga striker whose 109 goals at international level were long unsurpassed until Cristiano Ronaldo overtook him, is one of Iran’s most famous footballers.
Daei said his wife and daughter had flown on a Mahan Air flight, taking off from the capital Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport, headed to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, ISNA news agency reported.
But the plane was rerouted and made to land on Iran’s Kish island in the Gulf, where his family removed, the state news agency IRNA said.
Quoting the judiciary, IRNA said that “Daei’s wife had pledged to inform the relevant institutions of her decision before leaving the country”, following their “association with the groups against the Islamic revolution and rioters and calling for strikes”.
The IRNA report added that “the flight landed at Kish airport and Ali Daei’s wife and daughter got off the plane”.
The former Bayern Munich player, who played in Iran’s 2-1 World Cup victory against the United States in 1998, has said he has been targeted by threats after backing the protests triggered by the death of Amini.
“My daughter and wife were taken off the flight, but they were not arrested”, Daei said, ISNA reported.
“Had they been banned (from leaving), the passport police system should have shown it: no one has given me an answer about this. I really don’t know what is the reason for these things”.
Daei said he was trying to arrange his family’s return to Tehran.
“Did they want to arrest a terrorist? My wife and daughter were going to Dubai for a few days trip and back”, he added.
Daei on September 27 used social media to call on the government to “solve the problems of the Iranian people rather than using repression, violence and arrests”.
In October, Daei told AFP his passport was confiscated by police upon his return from abroad, before being returned to him a few days later.
He said he had not gone to the World Cup in Qatar due to the Iranian authorities’ crackdown on the protests.
Earlier in December, his jewelry shop and restaurant in Tehran’s fashionable north were sealed, with local media reporting they had been ordered shut for “cooperation with anti-revolutionary groups in cyberspace to disrupt peace and business of the market.”
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