Iran captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh has accused the English media of attempting to undermine the Iran squad before they face England on Monday.
The former Brighton midfielder insisted the English media have set out to destabilise his team by questioning the protests raging back home in Iran. Reported by The Guardian he responded to the questions by saying:
“I assume you’re from the English media. To be honest, I’m not sure if England wasn’t in our group you would have come with this question, firstly. And secondly, we have been facing this already for a couple of weeks with all the English media – this was all the headlines as we get closer to the World Cup, whatever the reason is.”
Jahanbakhsh then added he believed this was all a “mental game” being played by the English press, before adding: “But we have just four days to go to play one of the biggest games of our lives – every single person involved in Team Melli and all of us are focusing on that.”
Despite this, Jahanbakhsh did admit that “if you ask this question outside my duty to the national team I would have answered the question with a different view.”, suggesting a possible gagging order from the Iran government on the players representing their nation in Qatar.
Finally the 29-year-old signalled a possibility that players may refuse to sing the national anthem. However in doing so they could put themselves and their families at risk for merely showing support for human rights in Iran.
Jonathan Maze | GWCFN