Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz questioned the “disinformation” about threats against his players and praised their efforts despite being eliminated from the World Cup after a 1-0 defeat to the United States.
Christian Pulisic’s first-half goal was enough to condemn Iran to a loss in their final Group B game at Al Thumama Stadium on Tuesday.
Iran’s players took part in an apparent display of solidarity with anti-government protesters in the country when they chose not to sing the national anthem ahead of their first game in Qatar against England.
Human rights groups say more than 400 people have lost their lives amid the repression of protests in Iran, which began following the September death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody after being arrested for her refusal to wear the mandatory hijab.
Reports had suggested the players’ families had been threatened if they protested again, but in his post-match press conference, Queiroz gave a stern response.
“The world, in the current circumstances, is full of stupidities,” he said. “If you hear from an anonymous source, you convey the information and in the space of two hours, some stupidities become truth.
“It’s disinformation, it’s a shame but it’s the truth. We have heard several stories about threats the players received.
“But what I can state is that thanks to their work, thanks to the conversations we had, the players started smiling again and understood who they were playing for, their mission.
“I’m very glad they were able to give a response on the field and give prestige to the shirt.”
Iran toiled in the first half against USA, but pressed hard for an equaliser late on, with Mehdi Taremi insistent he had been fouled by Cameron Carter-Vickers in the box as he tried to get a shot away in stoppage time, though the contact appeared minimal and the penalty appeals were denied.
Queiroz had no interest in making excuses though, saying: “I won’t speak about [the penalty appeal] for two reasons. First, I haven’t been able to see it in detail. But I think after the US has gone through to the next round, speaking about that is senseless.
“It reduces the dignity of the game. We have already undergone other decisions in 2014 and 2018 which were more clear and obvious, and life goes on.”
Iran have now failed to get past the opening group phase at each of their six World Cup appearances (18 games); only Scotland (23) have played more games at the tournament with all of them coming in the opening group phase.
Queiroz was happy with his players’ efforts, though, adding: “I am very proud and I’m honoured to be a coach of this Iran squad, the players are fantastic.
“I said before that earlier in my career, I coached many teams, and throughout my career, I’ve never seen players that gave so much and received so little in return.
“They deserve all my respect and admiration. I’m incredibly proud of their efforts in training and in games, wearing the shirt of their country.”
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