Iran footballer returns after Ramadan fasting row

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Ali Karimi 2007
Image caption,
Ali Karimi is Iran's second most capped player of all time

One of Iran's best-known footballers has been reinstated by his club after being fired for breaking the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

Ali Karimi - called the Maradona of Asia - has been told he can play for his club, Steel Azin, again if he pays a $40,000 (£26,000) fine.

He says he will pay but has consistently denied insulting Islam.

Mr Karimi has been a vocal critic of Iran's football federation and Steel Azin's management.

He also wore a green arm band in support of the country's opposition movement at a World Cup qualifier played in South Korea last year.

Commentators in Iran say his dismissal may have had more to do with politics than religion.

Mr Karimi was dismissed by Steel Azin earlier this month for breaking the Ramadan fast, when he was seen drinking water during a training session.

The response from the club's fans was protests and widespread support for the star player.

He also got the backing of former Iranian footballers who had themselves endured the Ramadan fast while training in Iran's scorching summer months.

He is one of Iran's most celebrated footballers and its second most capped player of all time.

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