Iranian footballer Vafa Hakhamaneshi displays message of solidarity with Iran's women, sent off

Vipin Pawar/Focus Sports/ ISL

Vafa Hakhamaneshi of Iran celebrated with a message of solidarity with women in his home country of Iran after scoring for Chennaiyin FC against East Bengal in the Indian Super League on Friday.

The centre-back peeled off his marker at the near post to power home the game's first goal from a corner before rushing to the camera right behind the goal and lifting his shirt which revealed the following message on his vest underneath -






With Iran in the midst of a wave of protests led by women - who are breaking the hijab law as a show of dissent against the current regime - this appears to be a strong message of support for Hakhamaneshi's countrywomen.

Hakhamaneshi was sent off, though, with football's laws strict on both removal of shirts during celebration and even lifting of a shirt to reveal a political message. He had already been booked for a bad foul in the 60th minute, before receiving a second yellow after scoring his goal nine minutes later.

The match ended 1 - 0, the Iranian defender's goal the difference between the two sides.

Hakhamaneshi, 31, joined Chennaiyin from Thai club Ratchaburi ahead of this season. A centre-back he started his career at Iranian giants Sepahan SC. He then played for 10 clubs in his home nation (till 2020-21) before moving to the Thai League.

Earlier, other Iranian players had also expressed support. One of the nation's most popular players, Sardar Azmoun (of Bayer Leverkusen) had posted a strongly worded message on Instagram despite rules prohibiting the players from speaking out:

"The ultimate [punishment] is to be kicked out of the national team, which is a small price to pay for even a single strand of Iranian women's hair. Shame on you for easily killing the people and viva women of Iran. Long live Iranian women!"

Former footballer Ali Karimi also took to twitter asking the Iranian army to side with the people and prevent "bloodshed" during the protests