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Carlos Queiroz Backs Away from Coaching Iran

Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz, in an abrupt turnaround, has rejected an offer to coach the Iranian national squad, Football Federation of the Islamic Republic (FFIRI) head Ali Kafashian said in an interview Monday night on the popular Iranian TV sports program, ’90.’ “All of Queiroz's requests had been accepted by us, but he informed tonight and that he could not accept the offer for private reasons,” Kafashian said, adding that Queiroz’s family did not want to live in Iran which imposes strict moral codes, particularly on women. The Iranian Student’s News Agency (ISNA) reported that Queiroz had cited “family problems” as the reason for his turnaround in an email he sent to FFIRI international committee director Abbas Torabian. Queiroz’s reversal came amid clashes in Tehran between riot police and opposition demonstrators that had taken to the streets in defiance of a government ban in support of the anti-government protests in Egypt and Tunisia that toppled presidents Hosni Mubarak and Zine Abedine Ben Ali. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who takes a close interest in FFIRI’s affairs, had hoped that an announcement by Torabian that the federation had signed a preliminary, $6 million three-year contract with Queriroz would divert attention from the demonstrations.

Iran last week banned all professional soccer matches in Tehran aimed at preventing the pitch from becoming a rallying point for protesters.

Iran couched the ban on professional soccer matches in terms of wanting to focus attention on this weekend’s celebrations of the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

To many, however, the postponement had more to do with concern that the matches would provide an opportunity to express anti-government sentiment.

The postponement of the Tehran matches follows the suspension of league games in Egypt and in Algeria, which is also wracked by anti-government protests.

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