Carlos Queiroz stays on as Iran coach

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Guess who's back? Carlos Queiroz.

The saga of Carlos Queiroz's time as coach of Iran has taken a fresh twist with the Portuguese handler making a u-turn and choosing to lead the team's 2018 World Cup campaign.

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Queiroz, a former Real Madrid boss and ex-assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, announced last month that, with regret, he was quitting the Iran job, citing unspecified "pressures".

The 62-year-old has since been involved in a squabble over taxes that, days after quitting, saw him stopped from leaving Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport with his players.

But Iranian media reported Sunday that Queiroz will stay for the qualification campaign for the 2018 finals in Russia, ending a battle between the football federation and the sports ministry.

"Anyone who doesn't like this can leave the federation since the ministry has concluded to continue with Queiroz," said Reza Hosnikhu, an official who was picked to mediate the dispute.

"Harmony must now prevail," he told reporters.

Queiroz, who is very popular with Iranian fans, had in the summer before the Brazil finals spoken of not having enough support from the ministry for training camps and other essential preparations.

And Ali Kafashian, president of the Iran Football Federation, on March 20 announced the team's relationship with Queiroz was over after four years in charge.

However, weeks of talks to try and resolve differences have since taken place, leading to a final reconciliation meeting on Saturday, according to the English-language Tehran Times.

Kafashian was quoted in Sunday's edition of the newspaper as saying: "Fortunately everything has been resolved and Mr Queiroz will prepare the national team for the World Cup 2018. Our goal is to reach the last 16."

Queiroz added: "It was a very positive meeting. All of the fans want their team to be in the next World Cup.

"All we need right now is support the federation and the ministry to prepare for big events."

Iran has been placed in Group D of Asian qualifying for World Cup 2018 and will face Oman, India, Turkmenistan and Guam.

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A wider probe involving investigations in Qatar could be subsequently opened if found warranted.

French prosecutors said Saturday they had opened a preliminary probe into a lobby group’s claims that construction giant Vinci is using forced labour on building projects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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The investigation, which began about a fortnight ago, aims to verify allegations — denied by the French construction group — that have been made by the non-governmental group Sherpa, prosecutor Catherine Denis told AFP.

A wider probe involving investigations in Qatar could be subsequently opened if found warranted, she added.

Sherpa has filed a claim in a French court against Vinci and its Qatari subsidiary QDVC for “forced labour”, “servitude” and “concealment”.

Vinci has denied all the allegations, and has filed a defamation claim in Paris against Sherpa.

“The on-site investigations found the use by these companies of various threats to force vulnerable people into scandalous working and living conditions for a paltry salary,” the NGO had said.

The NGO claimed that “passports were confiscated by the company and workers were threatened if they claimed their right to better working conditions or housing, if they wished to resign or change employer”.

Qatar gave undertakings last year to improve workplace safety, housing, and pay and conditions for its huge expatriate workforce after world football governing body FIFA came under huge pressure from rights groups to review its decision to award the emirate the 2022 World Cup.

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