Iran’s manager Carlos Queiroz confronted a journalist at the end of a media conference after taking offense at politics once again dominating discourse ahead of Friday’s game with Wales. In an animated exchange, Queiroz suggested that his colleagues should ask similar questions, taking the extraordinary step of asking BBC journalist Shaimaa Khalil why England manager, Gareth Southgate, was spared questions about the war in Afghanistan.
During the press conference, Queiroz reiterated the importance of freedom of the press, but made it clear that he felt it was time other managers were questioned about broader issues in the world, saying it was “strange” that his rivals avoided such questions. He then tackled the BBC journalist before being ushered out of the room. “Why don’t you ask the other coaches?” Queiroz said. “Why don’t you ask Southgate, ‘What do you think of England and the United States that have left Afghanistan and all women alone?'”
Queiroz was unhappy that Khalil asked Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi if he had a message for those protesting against their government following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September. Iran’s players did not sing their national anthem ahead of their 6-2 defeat to England on Monday in clear support for protesters.
Khalil asked Taremi: “Your fans are here cheering for you, your fans are at home cheering for you, there are also people on the streets, what is your message for protesters who are back on the streets in Iran?”
Taremi said the Iranian squad was under no pressure to sing the national anthem after suggestions they could face reprisals if they remain silent before kick-off against Wales on Friday and the US on Tuesday. Taremi later added, “I can’t change anything, thousands of other people like me can’t change anything.”
Queiroz was previously asked if it was “fair for the Western media and their journalists to keep asking Iranian footballers political questions?” The 69-year-old replied: “They have a right, the press has a right to ask the questions they understand are the right questions. We have the right to give the right answers. It’s just a matter of respecting each other.
“There is no problem for us with your question, whatever it is. It’s important that if we answer whatever we want, you should respect that too… There’s nothing wrong with the international press asking the questions they want. It is freedom of the press and we have the freedom to answer.”
Queiroz, who confirmed goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand would not feature due to concussion protocols, said his players were desperate to focus on football. “Let them play the game,” he said. “This is what they want to do. Play for the people of Iran. Players are not the enemies of the supporters. To make sure that they are the only people who should give you answers about human problems around the world, you can I don’t 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.”
On the football side, Queiroz repeatedly referred to Wales supporters as the Red Wall, describing the atmosphere they create akin to a “football party or show”, and gave special praise to Gareth Bale, who has finished to break Wales’ everything. men’s time record by winning his 110th international match against Iran. Queiroz admitted that Sir Alex Ferguson tried to sign Bale when the pair worked together at Manchester United.
“He is one of the best and at the moment he is not only the top player of the team, but also the character, the leader on the field when it comes to steering the stability of the team and controlling the pace of the game,” Queiroz said of the Wales captain. “He is a very intelligent player. I haven’t had the chance to work with him, despite the fact that he was one of those players at the time [at Manchester United] we tried to reel in. He is the image of ‘one team’.”
Bale, who made his Welsh senior debut against Trinidad & Tobago in 2006 aged 16, scored an 82nd-minute penalty to earn a point against the USA in their group opener on Monday, but know that a win against Iran is vital if they are to stand a chance. to advance to the last 16. “On a personal level it’s a great 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,” Bale said. “We won’t just watch England’s game and think it’s going to be a walkover just because England beat them 6-2, we’re not going to get sucked into that. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Bale said he hoped schoolchildren in Wales could watch their game for a “mini history lesson”. “Because Wales kicks off at 10am, if I were one of the teachers I would 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 at a World Cup. Some parents of kids I know all want to watch the game but don’t want to take them out of school, so I think a lot of schools will set up the game so they can cheer us on and get behind us. It’s a little history lesson and hopefully it will be a great opportunity for all of them.”