Iran football boss Carlos Queiroz has sent a message to the Iranian public following his nation’s stunning 2-0 World Cup win over Wales on Friday.
There is currently widespread unrest in Iran with thousands of people protesting after 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini died three days after collapsing in police custody
The protests sparked by Amini’s death have become one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since its establishment in 1979, with demonstrators calling for regime change.
At least 416 people, including 51 children and 27 women, have been killed by security forces in the protests, Oslo-based rights group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said on Tuesday.
Many Iranians have turned against their national football team amid the ongoing unrest in the country.
Some see the team as representing the regime rather than the people of Iran and celebrated the team’s 6-2 defeat to England on Monday.
The Iranian players chose not to sing their country’s national anthem at the match against England, in an apparent show of support for the protests, but after the gesture was largely dismissed by many Iranians, the team decided to sing the anthem prior to kick-off against Wales, and were loudly booed and jeered.
Speaking after Iran’s 2-0 win, Queiroz said: ‘It’s just the beginning now, we need to finish the job.
‘I think it was a wonderful day for us. I don’t have words how to say thank you to our players.
‘Brilliant, they deserve it, all the attention and respect. I think today people understand these boys love to play football.’
He then gave a message to the Iranian public as he added: ‘Again, the players deserve to be supported and we did it from them. That is the only reason we are here, to entertain the fans.’
Iran has arrested several footballing figures for voicing criticism since the protests began, including Parviz Boroumand, Hossein Mahini, Hamidreza Aliasgari, and Yahya Golmohammadi.
Prominent former Iranian footballers Ali Karimi and Ali Daei have also come under fire from authorities for expressing support for protesters.
For more stories like this, check our sport page.