Iran preps for World Cup with unrest at home

Oct 23, 2022, 2:22 PM | Updated: Oct 24, 2022, 2:35 am

FILE - Iran forward Mehdi Taremi celebrates after he scored first goal during the AFC Asian Cup qua...

FILE - Iran forward Mehdi Taremi celebrates after he scored first goal during the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Iran and China at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

(AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

              In this Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, a police motorcycle and a trash bin are burning during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by the nation's morality police, in downtown Tehran, Iran. Spontaneous mass gatherings to persistent scattered demonstrations have unfolded elsewhere in Iran, as nationwide protests over the death of a young woman in the custody of the morality police enter their fourth week.(AP Photo)
              FILE - Iran forward Mehdi Taremi falls between China's Shi Ke , left, and Liu Yiming during the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Iran and China at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)
              FILE - Iran's national soccer team head coach Carlos Queiroz walks towards the media after a training session in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
              FILE - Iran's goalkeeper Alireza Safar Beiranvand reacts during a friendly soccer match between Turkey and Iran, in Istanbul, Monday, May 28, 2018. (AP Photo, File)

Women’s rights are back in focus as Iran’s national soccer team prepares for the World Cup. They were never that far away.

Anti-government protests have engulfed the Islamic Republic following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained for allegedly wearing a mandatory headscarf too loosely.

Players on the men’s team that will face England, Wales and the United States next month in Qatar have voiced their support for Iranian women’s rights, despite some initial hesitancy.

Back in January, Iran made headlines not only by beating Iraq 1-0 to qualify for its third straight World Cup but also because 2,000 women were allowed to attend the game at Azadi Stadium in Tehran. Two months later, though, women were blocked from attending another match and reportedly were pepper-sprayed.

Women typically have been prohibited from attending men’s games and other sports events in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. A rights group has called on FIFA to expel Iran from the tournament in Qatar.

Security forces have violently suppressed recent protests. Mehdi Taremi, the striker who scored in the victory over Iraq, wrote on Instagram of being “ashamed” to see videos from Iran of violence against women in the streets.


The Iranians have a tough first game — against England on Nov. 21. They face Wales four days later before another showdown with the United States. That last group game — besides being politically charged — could be critical for both teams to advance.

Iran took note of some headlines in Britain after the draw was announced. One tabloid declared that England got a “dream World Cup draw” against Iran — and the United States.

“It is exactly the same feeling that I have — thank God that we are playing against England,” Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said after being rehired in early September. “We like to play against the best teams in the world. England is one of the best teams in Europe — Iran one of the best teams in Asia, so that’s why we’re here, to play great games.”

Iran has never advanced out of the first round. It has played in five previous World Cups, having debuted in 1978.


Iran beat the United States 2-1 at the 1998 World Cup in France in one of the more memorable games in tournament history — mainly because of the political backdrop.

The United States hasn’t had formal diplomatic relations with Iran since 1980 following the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Iranian students who held hostages for 444 days.

The day before the game in Lyon, the Iranian team received instructions to not shake hands with the American players. Instead, in a show of sportsmanship by both sides, the teams gathered before kickoff for a group photo.

Hamid Estili and Mehdi Mahdavikia scored before Brian McBride netted late for the United States in Iran’s first-ever World Cup victory. Neither team advanced out of the group. The teams played a friendly two years later at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.


The 30-year-old Taremi is peaking at the right time. He scored twice for Porto in a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen one week after setting up both goals in a 2-0 victory over the German club in the Champions League.

Queiroz likely will be without forward Sardar Azmoun, who tore a calf muscle in early October while warming up for Leverkusen. The Bundesliga club said the 27-year-old Azmoun was expected to miss six to eight weeks. Azmoun has 41 goals in 65 appearances for Iran.

Alireza Beiranvand saved a penalty against Cristiano Ronaldo in a 1-1 draw with Portugal at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

In recent friendlies, Iran beat Uruguay 1-0 and drew 1-1 with Senegal in Austria.


Queiroz was rehired as Iran coach in early September to replace Dragan Skocic. This will be Queiroz’s fourth World Cup. He led Iran in 2014 and 2018 and coached his native Portugal in 2010. He became available after failing to lead Egypt to this year’s tournament.

Queiroz has used a variety of formations and is defensively minded.

“We’re going to play against some of the best players in the world,” Queiroz said, “but we’re going to be ready for them.”


AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

7 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

7 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

7 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

7 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

7 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

7 months ago

Iran preps for World Cup with unrest at home