DOHA, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Iran’s soccer players are allowed to protest against women’s rights at the World Cup in Qatar but must do so within the rules of the tournament, coach Carlos Queiroz said. on Tuesday.
344 people have been killed and 15,280 arrested in protests across the country over the past two months following the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini under the control of the Morality Police, according to human rights agency HRANA.
Iran says his death was premeditated and accuses its enemies of fomenting the unrest to destabilize the country. The protests turned into a legal crisis for the religious establishment that has been in power for more than 40 years.
Iranian players covered up their national team badges during two warm-up games in September, interpreted as a sign of support for the protests.
But they met with Iranian leaders before heading to Doha, where they trained for the first time on Tuesday, and have drawn criticism on Twitter in recent days.
“Players have the same freedom to protest as they would any other country, as long as they respect the rules of the World Cup and the spirit of the game,” Queiroz told a news conference.
“But you can express yourself on the field during a football game, the players are only thinking about one thing and that is to fight to get to the second round,” he said.
FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, has opposed demonstrations and sloganeering by players, teams and fans, but has become more tolerant of protests over the past year, with several teams taking part in protests wearing t-shirts calling for human rights. World Cup host Qatar.
Queiroz was asked if he was proud to coach a country that repressed women, and in a heated response asked the reporter how much he would be paid to answer the question.
The coach said that Iran’s players were drawn into a difficult Group B with England, Wales and the United States, but their goal was to qualify for the second round. They face England on Monday at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Iran have failed in their previous five appearances in the World Cup finals and qualified for the second round. “They don’t just want to be part of history, they want to make history,” Queiroz added.
“If we bring joy and pleasure to people, then we have fulfilled our role as footballers. This is the most important thing for me as a coach of the national team.”
Queiroz, who has been successful at the last four World Cups, said he felt he had to respect an out-of-form England team that could beat him. “There are very few teams who can come back and do what they did in the last game against Germany,” he said.
In their last Nations League match in September, England lost 2-0 to Germany and drew 3-3 at Wembley.
Report by Mark Gleeson; Directed by Ken Ferris
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