Iranian soccer star dies in car crash

 December 26, 2023

A young Iranian soccer star died in a car crash over the weekend.

23-year-old Melika Mohammadi played for Iran's national women's soccer team. She was born in Iran but grew up in Bethesda, Maryland.

Mohammadi played soccer at Emory University in Atlanta before moving to Iran to play for the national women's team.

Iranian soccer star dies

She was returning from training with some teammates when their car flipped over, killing Mohammadi instantly. Zahra Khajavi and Behnaz Taherkhani were also injured and treated at the hospital.

The accident occurred near Bam, a city in southern Iran.

Mohammadi played for the Bam Khatoon Women's Football Club and the national women's team in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC.) The president of the AFC, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, shared his condolences.

“On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to convey my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Melika Mohammadi," he said.

“Her contributions as a key player of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s women’s national team will be long remembered. We join the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in mourning this great loss."

Iran ratches up tensions

Mohamaddi used her role to advocate for women's rights in Iran, a tightly controlled theocracy that is governed under Islamic law.

A small group of women was allowed into Iran's biggest soccer match, the Tehran Derby, for the first time in history this month. Women's rights advocates praised the development after decades of restrictions on women attending sporting events.

“Historical day for women’s rights activists and the fight for equal access to public spaces will continue,” the group Open Stadiums said.

Iran was rocked by major protests last year after a woman died in custody of the morality police, sparking popular anger with Iran's theocracy.

The United States has had hostile relations with Iran since the current regime took power in 1979.

The war in Israel has brought fresh tensions between Washington and Tehran as Iranian-backed forces bombard U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria.

Iran-backed rebels in Yemen have also been menacing shipping lanes in the Red Sea with drones.

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