A man who was badly beaten when he stepped in to stop security officials beating a young girl has been named as Iranian football star Soroush Rafiei.
The 32-year-old – who plays for the Persian Gulf Pro League club Persepolis and the Iran national team – was apparently arrested after the beating.
State media has denied that he was arrested but his absence from training the next day was seen as proof that he was the man who stepped in.
Iranian state media have been heavily criticised and recently sanctioned by the US for supporting the government narrative. This includes attributing the deaths of protesters to accidents and the forced confessions of relatives.
In a statement from the club, they also followed the government line saying that the only reason he was not in the training was that he had suffered a training “injury”.
The day before however at the end of practice he had been uninjured.
A picture of the footballer was shared by Ali Karimi, the former star player of Iranian football, who added the phrase “to be proud” over the man’s bravery in trying to protect the girl.
It is believed that after he stepped in, the girl managed to escape and it is unknown at the moment who she is.
Soroush Rafiei had already been under pressure after using a press conference outside Iran to criticise the life of luxury enjoyed by government officials while the ordinary people suffer.
A short while later he was removed from the lineup for the Iranian team.