Iranian national team in chaos ahead of World Cup due to social and political unrest

While the short preparation ahead of Qatar will not have been ideal for anyone, few managers can be dealing with as much strife as Iran manager Carlos Quieroz.

Over the last months, civil unrest has sparked mass protests after Mahsa Amini was arrested by the morality police in Iran for not wearing a headscarf and then died three days later.

Since those protests have kicked off, a number of prominent figures in Iran have criticised the regime, headed by the Ali Khamenei, for their draconian measures when it comes to women’s rights. Included in those figures are Ali Daei and former Osasuna player Javad Nekounam, as well as current forward Serdar Azmoun.

15,000 protesters have been arrested since and around 20 have been sentenced to death, as per the BBC.

Speaking to The Athletic, Brentford and Iran forward Saman Ghoddos joined the calls for change.

“No one is happy about it and everybody wants to see a change. The change is very easy. What the people want is nothing special — it’s just freedom. I don’t want to say go fight for it because I don’t think violence is the right way but something needs to change and this has been going on for too long.”

It has led to some uncomfortable questions for Portuguese coach Queiroz, who will lead Iran into the World Cup, to which he responded coldly.

“You guys bend your knees in the games. Some people agree, some people don’t agree with that, and Iran is exactly the same,” Quieroz said in response to an English journalist.

In addition, seemingly there is a split within the national team itself. Reportedly Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi had an aggressive argument about the matter, with the latter presumably supporting the Iranian regime.

Despite calls from FIFA President Gianni Infantino and French President Emmanuel Macron to leave politics out of the football, it appears Quieroz will not be able to do so. It should be noted that the way Infantino, Macron and Queiroz are speaking about issues in Qatar and Iran, they could be thought of as internal matters of opinion, but what they are actually referring to are human rights issues, rather than political views. Needless to say, football should not be an active force in repressing freedom of expression.

Tags 2022 World Cup Carlos Queiroz Iran Mehdi Taremi Saman Ghoddos Serdar Azmoun
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