Iran’s national team remains resilient amid the turmoil of their nation. However, since Team Melli arrived in Qatar, the team has been bombarded by the press.

Manager stands his ground

After being greeted with a cake in Doha, Carlos Queiroz went from elated to ill-tempered during his first press conference.

The Portuguese manager offered a rebuttal to a Sky Sports reporter when questioned about the human rights atrocities in Iran. “How much you pay me to answer that question?” Queiroz asked. “Talk with your boss, and I can give you the answer at the end of the World Cup if you make me a good offer.”

Should the Iran coach answer questions truthfully, he could be terminated.

Therefore, a sly innuendo to the reporter suggests that it would take vast sums of money for him to put his job in jeopardy. Considering “Team Melli” is ruled by the military generals who punish with an iron fist, Queiroz’s veracity defeats the purpose of his contract.

Team melli united

Further, Feyenoord winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh retorts at English reporters for their engagement in mind games. “I’m not sure if England weren’t in our group, you would have come with this question,”

In other words, Jahanbakhsh’s suggests he’s being bombarded since Team Melli shares Group B with England. Not because the reporter sympathizes about what’s happening on the ground in Iran.

Moreover, Omonia midfielder Karim Ansarifard and Persepolis defender Morteza Pouraliganji also faced similar probing. Using a team translator, Karim offered a sentiment. “We are here to qualify for the knockout stages. Hopefully, until the very last second of our third group game, we will fight until the very end to fulfill this huge dream,”

a devastating crisis

Unfortunately, ever since the #IranRevolution erupted in September, Iranian players have been trapped in a predicament.

Athletes on the team, including those mentioned above, embark on their 2nd World Cup cycle. In other words, several years of hard labor have led to the most glorious moment of their careers. Only to face criticism from their own people, in addition to punditocracy.

Given the radiating smiles of their FIFA press kits, it’s evident that Team Melli is enjoying themselves.

Nevertheless, the exultations of euphoria come at the cost of murder. Teenagers like Nika Shahkarami, Sarina Esmailzadeh and children like Kian Pirfalak; martyrs of a women-led revolution. Women that have been prohibited from attending soccer games since 1979, due to gender apartheid.

Perhaps, what Brentford midfielder Saman Ghoddos declared rings true, “It’s better to change the real problem, not kick the football side out of the World Cup.”

a paradigm shift

Iran’s presence at the World Cup continues to expose truths. Further, Iranian fans around the globe are realizing that since France 1998, Iran has always been the team of the Islamic Republic.

The truth is that Iran is mourning. Since the collective subconscious of its nation suffers, inferior subjects like soccer become irrelevant. Undoubtedly, therein lies a massive proportion of Iranians who do not have the liberty to enjoy the World Cup like other nations.

Nevertheless, the controversies will not prevent mainstays like FC Porto’s Mehdi Taremi from seeking glory. “We are here to bring joy to our people and make their hearts happy.”

Photo credit: IMAGO / NurPhoto

Guide to World Cup 2022

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of the biggest event in soccer!
TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
The Groups: We breakdown each group and all the teams
The Kits: Check out what every team will be wearing on the field this fall
Predictor: Play out every scenario with our World Cup Predictor
World Cup Bracket: Map out the entire tournament, from the groups to the final