Iran soccer players may get lash for butt grab

A combo photo shows a February 22, 2006, of Iran's football national team defender Mohammad Nosrati (L) and a January 13, 2006, file photo of Persepolis team football player Sheys Rezaei at the Azadi stadium, in Tehran.
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Iran soccer players
A combo photo shows a February 22, 2006, of Iran's football national team defender Mohammad Nosrati (L) and a January 13, 2006, file photo of Persepolis team football player Sheys Rezaei at the Azadi stadium, in Tehran.
Getty Images

Two Iranian soccer players have been suspended from the country's professional soccer league and may face a public lashing on the pitch for an "immoral" goal-scoring celebration, according to numerous reports.

Mohammed Nosrati of popular Tehrani club Persepolis was seen on television squeezing the backside of teammate Sheis Rezaei during a goal celebration. In a scene that was viewed live by millions in the strictly conservative Islamic Republic, Nosrati appears to try to shove his hand between the buttocks of Rezeai, who had leaped on top of other teammates in celebration of a game-winning goal.

Other video evidence indicates Rezeai may have done something similar earlier in the match to another teammate.

Either way, public officials have reacted with outrage at the display.

The players' "action can be considered a violation of public chastity," Judge Valiollah Hosseini told Iran's semi-official news agency, according to The Washington Post. "The punishment of this crime is prison up to two months and 74 lashes."

Nosrati and Rezaei have both said they did not intend to offend.

Iran's Islamic leaders have in recent years waged an increasingly aggressive campaign against what they see as immoral, Western-influenced behavior. As young people there become more exposed to Western values and customs through films, TV and the internet, the ruling clerics' patience has repeatedly been tested, and lashings and jail time for those who transgress have increased.

  • Joshua Norman

    Joshua Norman is a Senior Editor at CBSNews.com.