Spanish football fan walking to Qatar ‘arrested in Iran’

by Lorraine Williamson
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MADRID – A Spanish football fan who was walking to Qatar to watch the World Cup has been arrested in Iran. His mother said this after he lost contact for several weeks and his family had reported him missing. 

According to Santiago Sanchez Cogedor’s mother, the Spanish Foreign Ministry confirmed that her son was held in Iran but was in good health. Santiago left his hometown near Madrid in January. He hoped to make the trip in time for the competition that starts on November 20. But his family hadn’t heard from him for nearly a month. 

Not politically involved 

“The [Spanish] Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that he is being held in Iran and that his health is good,” Cecelia Cogedor told Spanish TV channel Cope late on Thursday. “He is not politically involved. Nor is he a member of any political party,” his father, Santiago Sanchez, said in an interview. “He is not making propaganda for or against a situation. The only thing that moves him is to support Real Madrid,” his father said. 

He was responding to rumours spread by media in Iran that his son could have visited the grave of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, the woman who was arrested for not following the dress code and died in prison. 

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Whether the troubled situation in Iran following Amini’s death led to the Spaniard’s arrest remains to be seen. The country has been gripped by protests for six weeks. Tehran has accused the United States and other Western countries of being behind the demonstrations. Last month, Iranian authorities announced the arrest of nine foreigners from Poland, Italy and France. The arrests were allegedly in connection with the protest movement. 

No official comment from the Iranian authorities 

The Spanish ambassador to Iran is asking Iranian authorities to visit Sanchez Cegedor, his mother said, who did not say anything about whether he is accused of anything and if so, what and where in Iran her son is being held. There has been no official comment from the Iranian authorities. 

Just arrived in Iran 

Sanchez Cogedor had documented his journey on Instagram, and in his last post on October 1, he said he was about to walk into Iran from a village in northern Iraq. He then told his parents in a voice message that he was going to Tehran before going to the port of Bandar Abbas to catch a boat to Qatar. 

“If you don’t set a date for your dreams, you won’t realise them,” Sanchez Cogedor reported in one of his posts about his walking journey to Qatar. “You have to say on this day I go and on this day I left.” 

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