Ahwazi Arab Hossein Ka'abi was one of four footballers expelled from the Iranian national side today after staging an on-pitch protest against the presidential election results during a match last week against South Korea.
Ahwaz-born Ka'abi, who has played for English League One team Leicester City FC, joined Ali Karimi, Mehdi Mahdavikia and Vahid Hashemian in wearing green armbands in support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, an opponent of President Ahmadinejad. Two other players also wore green armbands but have not been dismissed.
During the match held in Seoul, supporters of the Iranian team showed their support for the demonstrations in Iran by staging a protest outside the stadium. They unfurled a banner that read "Go To Hell Dictator," and chanted "Compatriots, we will be with you to the end with the same heart." During the match, protesters waved the banner, held up green paper signs reading "Where is my vote?" and waved Iran's national flags emblazed with the plea "Free Iran."
Ka'abi is one of Iran's most talented footballers, known for his aggressive style which has helped the Iranian side win at an international level. His passport has now been confiscated. There are concerns that he and the other footballers who participated in the protest will be imprisoned.
Ka'abi is believed to be a descendent of Sheikh Khaza'al, the powerful Arab sheikh of Mohammareh who ruled much of what is now the province of Khuzestan. Khaza'al was deposed by Reza Khan in 1925.