Iran's Football Federation has sacked four members of the national beach football team who had expressed support for protests that have swept the country for 2 ½ months.
Saeed Piramoon, Mohammad Ahmadzadeh, Moslim Mesigar and Mustafa Kiani have not been invited to the team's latest training camp, in yet another example of the Iranian government's interference in sports.
On November 5, players of the national beach football team were among the first Iranian athletes to refuse to sing the Islamic Republic anthem ahead of a match against the United Arab Emirates in Dubai.
The next day, social media footage showed Piramoon making a scissor-like gesture above his head with his fingers to mimic cutting his hair after scoring against Brazil.
Haircutting has become a symbol of solidarity with the nationwide protests triggered by the September death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody after her arrest for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly.
"Those who have not followed professional and sports ethics...will be dealt with according to the regulations", Iran's Football Federation said at the time.
A growing number of Iranian athletes have been voicing their support for the protest movement through their social media accounts.
Officials have blamed the athletes, many of whom have millions of followers, for "fanning the flames of the riots".