Carlos Queiroz confronts journalist at World Cup over questions on Iran protests

Carlos Queiroz confronts journalist at World Cup over questions on Iran protests

A disgruntled Carlos Queiroz confronted a BBC journalist after Iran’s latest World Cup press conference was again dominated by questions about the unrest in the country, asking why Gareth Southgate does not face similar interrogation.

There have been widespread demonstrations in Iran following the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in police custody in September after she was arrested for allegedly wearing a headscarf inappropriately. Hundreds of people have died as a result of the state’s attempt to crack down on the protests with thousands more detained.

The situation prompted calls for Iran’s expulsion in the build-up to the World Cup, while the team’s players did not sing the national anthem ahead of Monday’s 6-2 defeat to England in a show of solidarity with the demonstrators.

Queiroz and Iran forward Mehdi Taremi were both asked about the issue again on Thursday in a press conference previewing tomorrow’s Group B meeting with Wales, but once the session had finished, an irritated but calm Queiroz approached the BBC journalist and said: “Why you don’t ask to Southgate these kind of questions?

“I am talking with you. I ask for 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 [pulling out of] Afghanistan?”

Queiroz had taken particular exception to Taremi being asked for his message to the protestors back home, the Portuguese coach suggesting it was unfair to put political questions to a footballer.

Porto striker Taremi, who scored twice against England on Monday, was reluctant to discuss political issues and declined to answer, but insisted he and his teammates were not concerned about the consequences of their own protests at the tournament.

“I don’t want to talk about political issues but I can give you a very short sentence because I respect you: No, we are not under any pressure,” he said.

“The fact is we have come here to play football. You do your work as a journalist, you ask questions… I think that this space when it’s a space for sport and football, also journalists for football can be present here, so the fans can enjoy football. What is on the sidelines around it… I cannot change anything.”

Queiroz’s reaction was slightly bizarre, given he had earlier defended the freedom of the press, suggesting he had no issue with footballers being asked political questions, so long as they had the right not to answer.

“They have the right, the press have the right to make the questions that they understand are the right questions,” he said.

“It is important that if we answer whatever we want, you also need to respect that. We don’t want to mix those kind of issues in the moment that you’re playing football.

“This is not about us, this is about our president, president [Gianni] Infantino, the ethics of Fifa and the ethics of the game.”