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Qatar World Cup: Queiroz criticises Klinsmann's 'Iran culture' remarks on BBC

Former German footballer says words were taken out of context after scathing critique by Iran's coach
Iran's Portuguese head coach Carlos Queiroz attends a press conference in Doha on 24 November 2022, on the eve of the match between Wales and Iran (AFP)
Iran's Portuguese head coach Carlos Queiroz attends a press conference in Doha on 24 November 2022, on the eve of the match between Wales and Iran (AFP)

Iran's football coach has lambasted BBC pundit Jurgen Klinsmann after his analysis of the Iranian team's performance against Wales in the World Cup was perceived as offensive.

Carlos Queiroz on Saturday accused the former German player and coach of questioning him with a "typical prejudiced [judgement] of superiority" and called his remarks about Iranian culture and the national team a "disgrace to football".

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Sunday, Klinsmann said his comments were misunderstood and taken out of context. He said he would try to call Queiroz to "calm things down". 

The controversy started on Friday after Klinsmann answered a question on BBC's post-match analysis regarding Iran's "attitude" and "gamesmanship" in the match.

Klinsmann said Iran's gamesmanship and working of the referee was "part of their culture".

"Carlos [Queiroz] fits really well with the national team and their culture. He failed in South America with Colombia and then failed to qualify with Egypt, and he came in right before the World Cup with Iran, where he worked for a long time," the former German striker said. 

"It is not by coincidence, it is part of their culture, how they play. They worked the referee. They work the linesman and fourth official, they are constantly in their ear. There were a lot of incidents we didn't see. This is their culture, they take you off your game."

Klinsmann came under criticism from many people online calling his remarks "racist" and "dismissive" of athletes in the Global South.

Queiroz, the longest-serving coach of Iran over two spells, responded to Klinsmann on Saturday in a series of tweets.  

"No matter how much I can respect what you did inside the pitch, those remarks about Iran Culture, Iran National Team and my Players are a disgrace to Football," the Portuguese coach said. 

"Nobody can hurt our integrity if it is not at our level, of course."

Queiroz went on to invite Klinsmann to visit the Iranian team's camp, meet the players and learn about Persian culture.

However, Queiroz asked Klinsmann to resign from his role in the Qatar 2022 technical study group first. 

On Sunday morning, Klinsmann said his words were "taken out of context".

"I have never criticised Carlos or the Iranian bench. Some even thought I was criticising the referee because he didn't do anything about the way they were behaving on the bench," he told BBC. 

"All I described was their emotional way of doing things, which is actually admirable in a certain way. The whole bench lives the game. They're jumping up and down and Carlos is a very emotional coach, he's constantly on the sidelines trying to give his players all his energy and direction."

Western coverage

Queiroz has been outspoken about western coverage of his team during the World Cup. 

After a pre-match press conference last week, Queiroz confronted a BBC journalist over questions asked to Iranian players about the unrest back home.

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He asked if it was fair to put political questions to football players of Iran but not other countries.

"Why don't you ask the other coaches? Why don't you ask [England manager Gareth] Southgate: 'What do you think about England, the United States and [pulling out of] Afghanistan?" he said.

After their stunning 2-0 victory of Wales on Friday, Queiroz praised his players for their win which put them in a good position to make it out of the group stage for the first time in history.

"They deserve all the attention and respect. I think today people understand these boys love to play football. Again, the players deserve to be supported and we did it for them. That's the only reason we are here, to play for the fans," Queiroz said.

Iran will play against the United States on Tuesday in a decisive match in which a draw could see them through while a win would guarantee them a place in the next round.

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