TEHERAN (AFP) - Iran's outgoing football coach Carlos Queiroz was stopped from flying out of the country on Saturday over tax matters, media reports said, forcing his players to leave Teheran for Europe without him.
The 62-year-old Portuguese resigned from his post on Friday, citing external "pressures" just six months after extending his contract until 2018. He is due to finish his tenure at the end of March after friendlies against Sweden and Chile.
But as he and the team were heading out of Teheran's Imam Khomeini International Airport to prepare for those matches, he was prevented from boarding the plane.
"Mr Queiroz was told he is subject to a prohibition on leaving the country for non-payment of taxes. The players left without him," the official IRNA news agency said.
The incident was the latest run-in that Queiroz has had in Iran. The ISNA news agency reported that the former Real Madrid coach and Manchester United assistant was "very angry" when told he could not travel.
According to ISNA, Queiroz's contract stipulates that the Iranian Football Federation must pay his taxes. Other reports said that Ali Kafashian, the federation president, was heading to the capital to try to resolve the problem.
Queiroz's future as Iran boss had been in doubt since before last summer's World Cup, where his side had a chaotic build-up to the finals.
Training camps were cancelled and he also complained that there was not enough money to kit out his players with strips and other gear, leading to rows with officials that played out in the media.
Despite winning respect at the finals in Brazil for shaping a plucky team out of a modestly talented squad, Iran ultimately failed to advance from the first round.
However, after the tournament he extended his contract to 2018. His abrupt resignation on Friday appeared to signal that he and Iranian officials were at odds again.
"I didn't want to leave and was not even thinking about it," he told the Fars news agency.
"It was not in my control and it was not my decision. Even my boss didn't want this but unfortunately both sides were forced to agree on this because of pressures."
Queiroz's team also had a disappointing exit from the Asian Nations Cup in January, losing on penalties to Iraq in a fiery quarter-final after which he questioned how the referee could sleep at night.