Iran’s Queiroz hits back in flag row by highlighting school shootings in USA

Carlos Queiroz has raised the temperature before Iran’s crucial Group B fixture with the USA, addressing criticism of the Iranian regime by drawing parallels with American school shootings.

The Iran coach made his latest controversial intervention during this World Cup in relation to a row over a tweet by the US Soccer Federation which appeared to have deliberately doctored the Iranian flag. It came little more than 24 hours after Queiroz called for Jürgen Klinsmann to resign from a Fifa committee over remarks about the “culture” of Iran’s team.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the 69-year-old year old took great pains to praise the US team and their performances in Qatar. He also highlighted his own role in the development of the game in the States in the 90s. Asked about the USA’s social media post, which removed the symbol of the Islamic Republic from the flag and led Iran to call for the US to be banned from the World Cup, Queiroz took quiet aim at social problems in the US.

“We have said many times that we have solidarity of all humanitarian causes,” Queiroz said. “But we have solidarity with causes all over the world whoever they are. If you talk human rights, racism, kids dying at schools from shooting, we have solidarity with all. But we bring a smile for 90 minutes, that is our mission.”

Protests in Iran since Mahsa Amini died in hospital while in police custody have seen at least 450 people killed, and more than 18,000 arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, an advocacy group following the demonstrations.

The USA coach, Gregg Berhalter, apologised for the tweet of the flag. “I can only reiterate that the players and staff knew nothing about what was being posted sometimes things are out of our control,” he said. “We’re not focused on those outside things, all we can do is apologise on the part of the players and the staff.”

Queiroz was asked about his lengthy tirade against Klinsmann, after the German had said the “culture” of the team was to look to pressurise the referee into giving fouls, but the manager said he had “no comment” to make. However went on to defend his team and what he called their “values and principles”.

“I always work and always believe in my life that a football team must be based on the work ethics and principles of what a team is. [I want] to create a code of conduct that can make players believe every single morning they wake up that they need to be better, to beat what they were the day before. The only thing I care to talk about is the team as a unit, cohesion and being as a family.”