Two Iranian soccer players who were suspended this week could now be punished with a public lashing for their “immoral” goal celebration, reported the Washington Post.
Players on the Iranian club Persepolis were celebrating a winning goal during a match last Saturday by jumping into a scrum when television cameras caught “defender Mohammed Nosrati squeezing teammate Sheis Rezaei’s bottom,” reported the semi-official Fars News Agency.
The butt-squeeze, which has been widely distributed in video on social media websites, cost each player nearly $40,000 in fines.
Both were also suspended indefinitely “for committing immoral acts,” said Ismail Hasanzadeh, the head of the Iranian football federation's disciplinary committee.
But they could also face as many as 74 lashes each.
The Post reported that Iranian political figures and sporting officials were pushing for “swift punishment” - which could include the lashings and up to two months in prison.
Iranian judge Valiollah Hosseini told Fars that the nationally televised butt-squeeze was a “violation of public chastity.”
“It is even worse to do these actions before the eyes of thousands of spectators and TV cameras,” Hosseini told Fars, according to the Post.
If sentenced, the lashings would reportedly occur on the same field where the incident first happened.
Hadi Ghaemi, director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, told ABC News that a fine was likely the most the two would receive:
...there is no law in the Iranian penal code that suggests lashings for the specific crime of men groping one another’s butts. However, if the crime was deemed “inappropriate behavior,” akin to “what boyfriends and girlfriends do,” then lashings could be ordered.
The punishment of the two players is the latest in a long-term effort by Iranian authorities to crackdown on “immoral behaviors,” such as using profanity, in soccer stadiums throughout the Islamic Republic, according to Fars.