A Spanish soccer fan who set out to walk to Qatar to watch the World Cup has been detained in Iran, according to his mother, who lost contact with him for a number of weeks.

In an effort to complete the epic journey in time for the competition on November 20, Santiago Sanchez Cogedor left his hometown in the vicinity of Madrid in January.

But it had been almost a month since he had spoken to his family.

“The foreign ministry confirmed he was being held in Iran and that his state of health was good,” Celia Cogedor told Spanish TV channel Trece late on Thursday.

The Spanish ambassador to Iran is taking steps to “ask the Iranian authorities for authorisation to visit him”, she added, without saying what he is accused of or where he is being held.

Cogedor had been posting updates about his travels on Instagram, and in his most recent entry from a village in northern Iraq on October 1, he stated that he was about to enter Iran.

He then went to Bandar Abbas to catch a boat to Qatar after leaving his parents a voicemail informing them that he was travelling to Tehran.

A deadly crackdown by security forces following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody has sparked six weeks of protests in Iran. She had allegedly broken the nation’s dress code for women when she was detained by the notorious morality police.

Tehran primarily holds the United States responsible for the protests.

Last month Iranian authorities announced the arrest of nine foreigners, including from Poland, Italy and France, allegedly in connection with the protest movement.

The Spanish foreign ministry refused a request for comment, referring AFP back to Cogedor’s family.

Australia players criticise hosts Qatar

Australia, the first 2022 World Cup team to do so, has issued a statement in opposition to Qatar’s track record on human rights.

The World Cup hosts’ treatment of migrant workers and LGBTQ+ people is criticised in the video message.

Football The “suffering” experienced by workers and their families as a result of the tournament “cannot be ignored,” Australia said in a statement.

The tournament in Qatar, which begins on November 20, will feature Australia.

Watch the video here