Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz said the reports of the Asian team being banned from the upcoming World Cup is not of his concern as he remains focused on his team’s preparation for the showdown in Qatar.
Italian website Calciomercato on Friday wrote that a petition, signed by a group of overseas Iranians, has been lodged to the FIFA Council, calling on the international football governing body to omit the national team from the event due to alleged violation of human rights amid recent protests in the country.
Asked about the campaign against Iran’s participation in Qatar, Queiroz said he would not pay attention to “these distracting issues.”
“There are a lot of opinions in the world and we need to respect them. My position is very simple. We have enough headaches when preparing ourselves to play against England, so we leave those issues to others,” added the Portuguese, who returned to the job in mid-September, three years after ending his previous eight-year spell in charge of the Asian powerhouse.
“If the petition had been addressed to me, I knew what my answer would have been. I also know what the answer of the majority of people in Iran is. They want [their team] to play in the World Cup. They’ll enjoy to be there,” Queiroz said.
“The petition was not addressed to us, so let others do their job. It’s not part of our duties to answer to that.”
Iran and England will square off in Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium on November 21 in their opening fixture in Group B, which also features Wales and USA.
“I can’t say nothing that you already don’t know [about England]. They’re a great team with great players; a big name in the international football. For us, it’s an honor and pleasure to play against them,” Queiroz said of the European football giant, who made it to the World Cup semifinals four years ago, before reaching the final showpiece at the European Championship last summer, only to suffer a shootout defeat against Italy on home soil.
When asked about his biggest concern with less than 30 days until the tournament, the former Egypt manager said: “We don’t have concerns, we have challenges and we’re implementing solutions for our team. The wonderful challenge that we have is to make the players better and better every day. We are looking to close the gap between Team Melli and the big teams in the world,” he added.
Chasing a first-ever progress to the knockout phase, Queiroz’s side will take on Wales on Nov. 25 before going head-to-head with USA in the final round of the group fixtures in Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium four days later.