Santiago Sánchez Cogedor

Santiago Sánchez Cogedor

Spanish Soccer Fan


Santiago Sánchez Cogedor is a Spanish soccer fan who set out to walk from Spain to Qatar to watch the 2022 World Cup, documenting his travels on Instagram. He chose to cross through Iran on his journey, arriving in October 2022 in the midst of the widespread “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests following the death of Mahsa (Jina) Amini in the custody of Iran’s Morality Police.


Sánchez was arrested in October 2022 after visiting and taking a photograph of the burial place of Amini. Sánchez wrote after his release that he had fallen asleep outside and woken up in a cemetery. He added that he took the photograph at the suggestion of a boy at the cemetery and that Sánchez he did not know whose grave it was.

Treatment in Captivity

Sánchez was held in a detention facility run by the intelligence ministry in the Iranian Kurdish city of Sanandaj. He wrote after his release:

[The] authorities quickly confined me to a tiny, two-square-meter cell… The cell remained lit at all hours, and I had no bathroom. Initially, the threat of execution haunted me… The uncertainty of the duration of my imprisonment seemed to stretch time. Everything felt eternal and almost infinite. Along the way, false hopes and lies raised my spirits and then dashed them. When the authorities finally told me I would be released, I did not believe them.


The Iranian authorities released Sánchez from prison on December 31, 2023. An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Sánchez had been freed “with regard to human mercy and legal proceedings.”

Sánchez returned to Spain. At the Madrid airport, he told journalists, “It has been very long, very hard but I am here in my country.” He added that “I will probably go back to Iran, even if you told me not to,” saying he wanted the regime “to understand that you cannot say no, that you have to let people free. If you put a fence in front of me I'm going to jump over it.”

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