AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Iranian national football team captain, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, has accused the English media of attempting to destabilize his team ahead of their World Cup meeting in Qatar.
Group rivals Iran and England face each other on Monday, but sections of the British media have used the build-up to probe members of the Iranian team on political issues surrounding the sporadic riots in their homeland, Russia Today reported.
Responding to a question at a press conference this week, attacking midfielder Jahanbakhsh shut down efforts to direct the discussion away from football.
“I assume you’re from the English media,” replied Jahanbakhsh when asked about riots which erupted in some cities in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini, who died of record of illness as the medical tests found out.
“To be honest, I’m not sure if England wasn’t in our group, you would have come with this question, firstly,” added Jahanbakhsh.
“And secondly, we’ve been facing this already for a couple of weeks with all the English media – all the headlines as we get closer to the World Cup, whatever the reason is.”
The footballer insisted that the team’s focus was on the tournament in Qatar, where they have been drawn in Group B alongside England, Wales, and the USA.
“What I learned is to always respect the team, respect the jersey, no matter what,” said Jahanbakhsh, who spent three years at Brighton before moving to Dutch team Feyenoord in the summer of 2021.
Targeting the English media, the 29-year-old added, “it’s easy to bring it this way, to play the mental games, ask questions about what’s going on here or there, or whatever.