sport news Gareth Bale and Rob Page quick to shut down any political sideshows before huge ... trends now
Rarely, if ever, have questions about protest dominated the preface to a World Cup match quite so much as when Iran and Wales got down to talking about a clash on which so much rests for both countries.
To watch Iran coach Carlos Queiroz confront a BBC Persia journalist who had raised such an issue revealed his veneer of calm on the subject to be tissue thin, despite an impressive, statesmanlike half-hour discussing how his team can put the nightmare of England behind them.
'Great teams know how to rebound. What is important is the day after and the day after that,' he said.
Gareth Bale and Rob Page fielded multiple questions about protests in their press conference
Gareth Bale and Rob Page fielded multiple questions about protest, too, and though Wales' calm and classy defiance of Qatar's blanket ban on rainbows has left England trailing in their wake, both held fast to a resolve not to create a sideshow or a saga.
They gave the sense that Germany's experience on Wednesday — covering their mouths in protest for the team photo before losing to Japan — showed how gestures can come back to bite you.
Bale said: 'When one team tries to do something and the result doesn't go the right way, they get criticised for not concentrating on the football.'
Page said the issue of Welsh fans having rainbow bucket hats confiscated before Monday's game against the USA was in the hands of the Welsh government.
Wales will take on Iran in their second group game after drawing against the USA on Monday
Bale scored a penalty in the 82nd minute of Wales' clash with the USA to claim a 1-1 draw
Actions spoke louder than words, with rainbow coloured corner flags at the team's Al Saad Sports Club training ground. The FAW said on Thursday that the hats would not be prohibited inside any World Cup stadium now.
Bale checked his watch before sitting down to talk and you sensed that he, more than anyone, was shutting down the sideshows. He even interpreted a question about Wales winning the group as a booby trap. 'I know you are trying to get me to say something about England,' he said.
Has-beens threw the grenades. Sven Goran Eriksson declared that England's bench was 'better than most of the players in Wales'. Wales might counter that more British TV viewers watched their game against USA on Monday than saw England's against Iran: 9.4million to