TEHRAN (AP) — Iranian soccer legend Ali Daei, who backed the protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, said Monday that a plane from Tehran to Dubai had been diverted and his family had been diverted. Daei, 53, a former German Bundesliga striker whose 109 goals internationally went unsurpassed for a long time until surpassed by Cristiano Ronaldo, is one of Iran’s most famous footballers.
Daei said his wife and his daughter had flown on a Mahan Air flight, taking off from Imam Khomeini airport in the capital Tehran, bound for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the ISNA news agency reported. But the plane diverted and landed on Iran’s Kish island in the Gulf, where his family moved, the state news agency IRNA said.
Citing the judiciary, IRNA said that “Daei’s wife had promised to inform the relevant institutions of his decision before leaving the country,” following his “association with anti-Islamic revolution groups and rioters and calling for the strike”.
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 win against the United States in 1998, has said he has been the target of threats after supporting protests sparked by Amini’s death.
“My daughter and my wife were taken off the flight, but they were not arrested,” Daei said, ISNA reported.
“If they had been forbidden (to leave), the passport police system should have shown it: no one has given me an answer on this. I really don’t know what the reason for these things is.” Daei said that he was trying to organize the return of his family 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. On September 27, Daei used social media to call on the government to “solve the problems of the Iranian people instead of using repression, violence and arrests.”
In October, Daei said police confiscated his passport upon his return from abroad, before it was returned to him a few days later. He said that he had not gone to the World Cup in Qatar due to the repression of the protests by the Iranian authorities.
Iranian authorities have hanged two men convicted of murder in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan in the latest executions carried out by the Islamic republic, the judiciary said on Monday.
Elias Raisi was convicted of murder in a family dispute in 2020, and Ayoub Rigi of murder with a military weapon over “personal differences” with the victim, the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website said.
They were executed on Saturday after the families of the victims refused to grant them clemency under Islamic law, the chief prosecutor of the provincial capital Zahedan, Mehdi Shamsabadi, was quoted as saying.