Iran coach: Klinsmann should resign over ‘outrageous’ BBC comment

Klinsmann suggested Iranians have a cultural disposition to cheat, while BBC pundits agreed a European referee would make a difference.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz
Queiroz invited Klinsmann to visit the Team Melli camp to speak with the players and learn more about the team and country's culture [File: Gareth Bumstead/Reuters]

Tehran, Iran – The head coach of Iran’s national football team, Carlos Queiroz, has hit back at former German footballer Jurgen Klinsmann over “outrageous” comments while on-air with the BBC.

Klinsmann, a FIFA official, was on-set for the BBC following Iran’s dramatic 2-0 win over Wales on Friday as presenter Gabby Logan launched a discussion over Iran’s “gamesmanship” during the match.

Klinsmann proceeded by repeatedly saying “it’s in the culture” of Iranians to engage in unsportsmanlike behaviour of heckling referees.

“This is not by coincidence, this is all [done] purposely,” he said, chuckling. “This is just part of their culture, that’s how they play. They work the referee, you saw the bench always jumping up, always working the linesman, constantly in their ears, they’re constantly in your face.

“This is their culture. They kind of make you lose your focus, make you lose your concentration and what’s really important to you,” he said, adding that Queiroz fits in this pattern very well.

In a post on his social media accounts, the Iranian coach hit back and said: “No matter how much I can respect what you did inside the pitch, those remarks about Iran Culture, Iran National Team and my Players are a disgrace to Football.”

He invited Klinsmann to visit the Team Melli camp to speak with the players and learn more about the team and the country’s culture.

“At the same time, we just want to follow with full attention what will be the decision of FIFA regarding your position as a member of Qatar 2022 Technical Study Group. Because, obviously, we expect you to resign before you visit our camp.”

A statement published on the Iranian football federation’s website on Sunday said the federation has called on FIFA to clarify the comments and on Klinsmann to resign.

The federation also made sneering comments about a controversial chapter of Germany’s presence at the 1982 World Cup, when it was accused of fixing a match against Austria in a way that both teams would advance.

“Since Klinsmann is a German, he is promised not to be judged for the most shameful chapter of World Cup history, the 1982 Disgrace of Gijón, when West Germany and Austria fixed a match, and he is also promised not to be judged for his infamous dramatic dives as a former player,” the statement said.

On Sunday, Klinsmann said he wanted to “calm things down” with Queiroz, before adding that “there was stuff really taken out of context. I will try to give him a call and calm things down”.

“I have never criticised Carlos or the Iranian bench. Some even thought I was criticising the referee because he didn’t do anything about the way they were behaving on the bench,” he said on BBC Breakfast.

“All I described was their emotional way of doing things, which is actually admirable in a certain way. The whole bench lives the game. They’re jumping up and down and Carlos is a very emotional coach, he’s constantly on the sidelines trying to give his players all his energy and direction.”

Earlier, a clip of Klinsmann making the comments is also circulating on social media, with users criticising the former footballer as well as the BBC hosts for not only not challenging him but fervently agreeing with him.

Some users online pointed out that Klinsmann himself was so well-known for his flare for the dramatics during his playing time that his goal celebration was a fake dive.

They posted a clip of Klinsmann playing in the 1990 World Cup, where he is tackled by a defender and dives, prompting the referee to show a red card to the defender.

As Klinsmann is dramatically rolling on the ground and the medical team is called onto the pitch, a replay shows there was no contact between Klinsmann and the defender.

‘What if the referee was European?’

The BBC has also come under fire for its World Cup coverage, with some users calling it “racist”.

Following Klinsmann’s comments, another pundit on-air asked him if the result in the Iran-Wales match would have gone differently had it been judged by a European referee.

Klinsmann agrees and points out that the referee was from Guatemala. At that moment, host Logan jumped in and enthusiastically pointed out that the linesman was also from Trinidad and Tobago.

This comes days after the BBC confirmed it received nearly 1,500 complaints over its coverage of the opening World Cup game between hosts Qatar and Ecuador. The BBC also came under fire for not airing the opening ceremony.

The win over Wales gave Iran three crucial points after a crushing 2-6 defeat to England in their opening match.

All now rests on the match on Friday against the United States, where a win would mean Iran will advance beyond the group stage for the first time in its World Cup history.

Earlier this week, the Iranian coach expressed his anger over political pressure on himself and his players as Iran continues to experience protests that began over 70 days ago after Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody.

Some fans have also been seen protesting at the World Cup.

Source: Al Jazeera