Carlos Queiroz, the manager of Iran, confronted a BBC journalist who asked about protests in the Middle East country on Thursday — and demanded to know why other managers haven’t faced similar questions at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
In an extraordinary exchange Queiroz approached the BBC Persia reporter Shaimaa Khalil and asked why the England manager Gareth Southgate has not been asked political questions about conflict in Afghanistan.
“Why don’t you ask the other coaches about other cultures?” Queiroz said. “Why don’t you ask Southgate: ‘What do you think about England and the United States that left Afghanistan and all the women alone?’”
Queiroz was unhappy that Khalil had earlier asked the Iran striker Mehdi Taremi whether he had a message for those who are protesting against their government after the death of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September.
Iran’s football manager Carlos Queiroz confronts BBC correspondent Shaimaa Khalil after question to playerhttps://t.co/HoySrARapt pic.twitter.com/cNoL9T0WR0
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Iran’s players did not sing their national anthem before their 6-2 defeat by England on Monday in an apparent show of support for protesters back home.
Iran, the power of football and protests back home during a World Cup
Iranian state television cut away from its live broadcast of the match as the players lined up before the game for the anthem, as reported by The Athletic.
“I said before that I will not answer such questions, but I will answer this time,” Taremi said at the news conference.
“We are not under pressure. In a football tournament, football journalists must be respected and everything that has nothing to do with football must be left aside.”
At this point Queiroz made clear his displeasure — having expressed his frustration earlier in the week by urging the world’s media “to let the kids play”.
He said: “Is it fair to continue to ask political questions? It is the freedom of the press and it is our right not to answer and to respect and understand our position.
“Others should respect 3,000 years of (Iranian) history, culture, history, and science. Iranians are educated and humble and love what other citizens around the world like.”
Why are Iran players and fans protesting during the World Cup?
He added that it was unfair for the media to ask players questions about human rights.
“”It’s strange that you don’t ask these questions to other coaches and players, some of them do not talk about such matters in their countries.
“Let the players play football like other teams, the players are not the enemies of the fans.”
Iran has been rocked by over two months of protests sparked by the death of a young woman in the custody of the Gasht-e-Ershad, the country’s morality police, in one of the biggest challenges to the country’s clerical leadership since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
‘Why should Iran’s men be free to play in the World Cup when the women aren’t counted?’
(Photo: Getty Images)