Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz confronted a reporter at the end of a news conference after taking offense that politics once again dominated speech in preparation for Friday’s game against Welsh. In a lively exchange, Queiroz suggested that his teammates should face similar questions, taking the extraordinary step of asking BBC journalist Shaimaa Khalil why England manager Gareth Southgate has no questions about the war in Afghanistan.
During the press conference, Queiroz reiterated the importance of press freedom, but made it clear that he felt it was time other managers were asked about broader issues in the world, saying it was “strange” that his rivals avoided such questions. He then criticized the BBC journalist before being led out of the room. “Why don’t you ask the other trainers?” Queiroz said. “Why don’t you ask Southgate, ‘What do you think of England and America leaving Afghanistan and all the women alone?'”
Queiroz did not like it when Khalil asked Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi if he had a message for those protesting against his government following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September. Iran’s players did not sing their national anthem before their 6-2 loss to England on Monday in apparent support for the protesters.
Khalil asked Taremi: “Your fans have been here cheering you on, your fans are back home cheering you on, there are also people on the street, what is your message to the protesters on the street? Iran?”
Taremi said Iran’s squad was not under pressure to sing the anthem after suggestions they could face retaliation if they remain silent ahead of the match against Wales on Friday and the United States on Tuesday. Taremi later added: “I can’t change anything, thousands of other people like me can’t change anything.”
Previously, Queiroz was asked if it was “fair that the Western media and their journalists continue to ask Iranian footballers political questions.” The 69-year-old replied: “They have the right, the press has the right to ask the questions that they understand are the right questions. We have the right to give the correct answers. It’s just a matter of us respecting each other.
“There is no problem for us with your question, whatever it is. It is important that if we answer what we want, we must also respect that… There is nothing wrong with the international press asking the questions they want. It is the freedom of the press and we have the freedom to respond.”
Queiroz, who confirmed goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand will not play due to concussion protocols, said his players were desperate to focus on soccer. “Let them play the game,” he said. “This is what they want to do. He plays for the people of Iran. The players are not the enemies of the fans. For them to be the only people who need to give you answers about the problems of human beings around the world, you can judge that. I do not think it’s fair. I think it’s time to ask other coaches and players about other problems in the world, and I think there are other problems in the world.”
When it comes to football, Queiroz repeatedly referred to Welsh supporters as the Red Wall, describing the atmosphere they create as similar to a “football party or spectacle”, reserving special praise for Gareth Bale, who is ready to break the whole of Wales. record time for men’s caps by winning their 110th match against Iran. Queiroz has admitted that Sir Alex Ferguson tried to sign Bale when the two worked together at Manchester United.
“He is one of the best and right now he is not only the best player on the team but also the character, the leader on the field in terms of driving the stability of the team, managing the rhythm of the game,” Queiroz said of the captain. of Wales. “He is a very intelligent player. I didn’t get a chance to work with him even though he was one of those players that in those days [at Manchester United] we try to incorporate He is the image of ‘a team’”.
Bale, who made his senior Welsh debut aged 16 against Trinidad and Tobago in 2006, scored an 82nd-minute penalty to win a point against the United States in their group opener on Monday, but knows that a win against Iran is vital if they are to have a chance of advancing to the round of 16. “On a personal level, it is an incredible achievement, an honor to represent my country so many times. but it’s more important to try to get the win if we can and make it more special,” said Bale. “We won’t just watch the England game and think it’s going to be a ride just because England beat them 6-2, we won’t get sucked into it. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Bale said he hoped schoolchildren in Wales would be able to watch his game for a “mini history lesson”. “Being a 10am kick off in Wales, if I were one of the teachers I’d let them watch the game,” the 33-year-old said with a smile.
“I hope they do. It’s a historic moment in Wales, for us to be in a World Cup. Some of the parents of kids I know want to watch the game but don’t want to take them out of school, so I think a lot of schools will play the game to encourage and support us. It’s a mini history lesson and hopefully it will be a great occasion for all of them.”