Iran manager Carlos Queiroz has questioned why the media are not quizzing Gareth Southgate on England’s invasion of Afghanistan. His comments come after his frustrations boiled over after questions about Iran’s politics, which he has tried to veer away from since the beginning of the World Cup.
Tensions are rising in Iran, with mass anti-government protests taking place over the past few months, which has been aggressively cracked down on. Human rights activists have said that over 400 people have been killed in the protests, with over 15,000 people arrested. Players too have been involved in the protests, refusing to sing their national anthem against England in their opening match of the World Cup earlier this week.
Though members of the Iran squad, including staff, have been reluctant to speak too openly about what is going on in their homeland – preferring to stick to football and focus on getting a result against Wales.
That hasn’t stopped the media from seeking answers from manager Queiroz though. The Iran manager confronted a BBC journalist on Thursday after he felt he and his striker Mehdi Taremi were unfairly questioned during their press conference, he said: “Why don’t you ask to Southgate these kind of questions?
“I am talking with you. I ask the pleasure to talk with you. I am asking one thing to you now the press conference is finished. Do you think it is fair also to ask other questions to other coaches?
“That is the only question I make. Why don’t you ask the other coaches? Why don’t you ask Southgate: ‘what do you think about England, the United States and Afghanistan?”
The journalist, Shaimaa Khalil, infuriated Queiroz when she asked Porto striker Taremi if he had a message for protestors on the streets in Iran. Those demonstrations have intensified since September following the passing of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who died in custody – with suggestions that she was a victim of police brutality, though those claims were denied by Iranian authorities.
She was arrested by the police in Tehran for not adhering to Iran’s dress code for women and wearing a hijab. Many have protested about that, including Voria Ghafouri, who was arrested on Thursday for ‘tarnishing the reputation of the national team and spread propaganda against the state’. The 35-year-old was not selected to represent Iran in Qatar but does have 28 international appearances to his name. Ghafouri posted an image of himself on Instagram in a traditional Kurdish dress.