TEHRAN, Iran (AP) â Online bullying has just cost Iran one of its top players.
Forward Sardar Azmoun said Thursday that heâs retiring from the national team.
The 23-year-old was the target of numerous attacks on social media after failing to score in any of Iranâs three group matches at the World Cup.
He was sent obscene messages and mocked for his perceived lack of impact.
Azmoun said his mother had been recovering from a serious illness, but the insults caused it to flare up again.
The Rubin Kazan striker had been built up as Iranâs top goal-scoring threat before the tournament and has scored 23 goals in 36 international appearances.
Another forward, the 30-year-old Reza Ghoochannejhad, said that heâs also leaving the Iran team.
âMy mind, my personality and my pride do not allow meâ to wear the Iranian national team shirt again, Ghoochannejhad said in his Instagram statement.
Ghoochannejhad didnât say whether he was reacting to the online abuse or to coach Carlos Queirozâs decision not to play him at the World Cup.
The team beat Morocco 1-0 on an own goal before losing 1-0 to Spain and drawing 1-1 with Portugal.
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