Eurosport- With Iran experienced political unrest following the death of Mahsa Aminim, players at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar decided not to sing the national anthem ahead of their match against England. There were also boos from supporters in the stands. Iran coach Carlos Queiroz says players should be allowed to "play the game" and not be "disturbed" by issues away from football.
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has expressed frustration at his players being caught up in political issues at home, saying they are just “simple football boys”.
Iran has been experiencing political unrest since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police for allegedly breaching the country’s dress code for women.
There have been protests in the country and at least 378 people have been killed by security forces, according to Iran Human Rights.
Iran captain Ehsan Hajsafi said ahead of their opening game against England, which they lost 6-2, that the team sympathised with those impacted.
Iran players also refused to sing the national anthem in a show of defiance.
But Queiroz said: “To those who come to disturb the team with the issues that are not only about the football opinions, they’re not welcome because our boys, they’re just simple football boys.
“Let the kids play the game. Because this is what they’re looking for. They wanted to represent the country, to represent the people, as any other national team that are here. And all the national teams, there are issues at home.”
Some fans made their feelings clear during the match by wearing t-shirts saying: ‘Women, life, freedom’.
There were also jeers heard during the anthem.
“You don’t know what the kids have been experiencing behind the scenes just because they want to play football,” said Quieroz.
“Of course, we have our opinions and we will express them in the right time. But I love the game and don’t want the players to do something that isn’t loyal to the game that is about the entertainment, joy and pride.
“They only have one dream, to play for the country, to play for the people and I am very proud of the way they stand up and keep fighting.
"Whatever they do, whatever they say, they want to kill them. Can you imagine at one stage of your life, whatever you say or do or think, you are killed?
"They only have one hope. Let them represent the country, play for the people, everybody represents the people here."
Former Real Madrid boss Quieroz led Iran for eight years between 2011 and 2019 before returning in September.
The team also protested ahead of the World Cup when they wore black jackets to cover their kit in a friendly against Senegal.
Iran play USA in their next game on Friday. USA drew 1-1 with Wales in their opener