Iran summons pundit, soccer icon over quake relief donations

Al-Monitor – “People will be the supreme judges,” wrote Ai Daei at the end of a lengthy post on his Instagram page, which is followed by some 3.6 million people. The strongly worded critical post came after the legendary former soccer player and current coach was summoned by the Iranian judiciary for “explanations” regarding public donations wired to his account for the quake-stricken residents of the western town of Sarpol-e Zahab. The donated deposits in Daei’s bank account have now been frozen.

Sarpol was hit hardest by the magnitude 7.3 earthquake that rattled Iran’s west and parts of eastern Iraq on Nov. 12, 2017. The quake killed over 600 people and left entire rows of villages nearly in total rubble. Daei, the 2001 UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, rushed to the quake-stricken areas and has been leading reconstruction projects there ever since. He even declined a 2018 Russia World Cup invitation, citing his preference to focus on the people in the devastated areas.

Now, after being summoned, the former Bayern Munich striker struck back at “the authorities who have only disrupted” his reconstruction projects instead of helping him with better service to citizens hit hardest by the earthquake. The post alongside a copy of the order triggered an outpour of solidarity among Daei’s followers, mainly telling him that the public is aware of his transparency and appreciates his genuine hard work.

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