Jürgen Klinmann’s remarks about Iran come at a difficult time for the country. He has a point however.
Being a television pundit always comes with the possibility of an ensuing debate of what has been said by a group of so called experts before, during and after a sporting event. Sometimes this is resembles much ado about nothing, sometimes the reactions are right and sometimes the shit storm is entirely overblown.
The football establishment knows Jürgen Klinsmann. As a player he was outstanding, winning the World Cup 1990 and the Euros 1996 but also several national titles in Italy, Germany and France, such as the UEFA Cup twice and the Bundesliga title. As a coach he revolutionised the German national team after the bleak years between 1999 and 2004, leading them to a third place finish in the 2005 Confed Cup and the following year at the World Cup in Germany.
His remarks regarding Iran come at a difficult time. The country is in upheaval following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. The day before the match against Wales, an Iranian player has been arrested on charges of undermining the Iranian team at the World Cup. Further, Iran has a difficult relation with the host country of the 2022 World Cup. The country is nervous as are the media, the players and the coaching staff. And quite understandably.
In the tweet below is a snippet of what Klinsmann said. He often repeats the word culture followed by style of play, playing style.
Listen man – he clearly meant style of play. You know that. Quit trying to find something to be mad at pic.twitter.com/QfsY33sGC7
— PH (@ph_arout) November 26, 2022
However, he added that this was why Queiroz fits them well. And this part was somewhat too personal and Queiroz reacted.
You took the initiative to call me Carlos, so I believe it is proper to call you Jurgen. Right?
Even not knowing me personally, you question my character with a typical prejudiced judgment of superiority.
— Carlos Queiroz (@Carlos_Queiroz) November 26, 2022
It is however important to note that Klinsmann was right about the style of play of Iran: they play physically, but never on the wrong side of the rules. Yet, so does every team play – each day at the World Cup, every weekend in leagues across the world. Klinsmann himself got away with it as many commentators were not tired to point out. The host in the studio, Gabby Logan called it correctly: gamesmanship. And that is what it was all about. It is part of football and football culture.
Iran are nervous; their team could reach the knock out stage in a major tournament while there is turmoil at home. Queiroz’ remarks are indicative of this nervousness, while Klinsmann added a personal note to his statement.