“The Qatar World Cup match between the USA and Iran will be one of the most political games in history”

At the 1998 World Cup in France, cheering squads from both countries with national flags on their faces stand side by side before the start of the group stage match between the United States and Iran. AP Yonhap News

The Group B match between the United States and Iran in the World Cup in Qatar on the 29th (local time) has been evaluated as a political game.

The Associated Press evaluated that this game between the two teams will be one of the most political games in history. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), an American daily, drew attention to the fact that the Iranian football team had become a ‘lightning rod’ of criticism because it failed to show the public sentiment of Iranians resisting the suppression of their theocracy. The WSJ explained that Iran’s national team, which had united Iranians across political divides in the past, did not support anti-government protests against the questionable death of the hijab and met with conservative Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi just before the tournament, and criticism was on the rise. .

The Iranian national team refused to sing the national anthem in the previous match against England to support the anti-government protests, but then sang the national anthem again in the match against Wales. “I always wanted my country to win, but I don’t want the Iranian government to win,” Danielle, an Iranian entrepreneur living in Canada, told the WSJ. He pointed out that supporters of the Iranian government, including soldiers in military uniforms, had gathered in the streets of Tehran, the capital, waving the flag of the Islamic Republic, and state media declared it a “miracle of unity” after a victory last week in Wales. “This team belongs to the people, not the government,” said Sejad, an office worker at an energy company who lives in Bushehr, a city in Nabu, Iran. After the match, some Iranian fans left the stadium wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Women’s Life and Freedom” and shouted slogans in support of the anti-government protests.

Meanwhile, the US team was criticized earlier on the 27th for political action by posting an Iranian flag with the Islamic Republic’s symbol removed on social media. The US team said in a statement that the graphic was displayed “in support of women fighting for basic human rights in Iran”. Ban Gwan-young’s Tasnim News Agency reported that the United States was using a distorted image of its national flag, and urged the United States to suspend the game and immediately kick the United States out of the World Cup. The Iran Football Association said, “This is not only a violation of international law, but also an act intended to affect the performance of the Iranian team.” As the controversy grew, the US State Department drew the line that it was not involved in any decisions made by the national soccer association and the national team.

The BBC and others drew attention to the fact that it looked very different to the two teams that played the role of a place of harmony earlier. The most recent encounter between the two teams was in the 1998 World Cup group stage match in France. A month before the match, the US State Department named Iran as the most active supporter of terrorism in the world, and the Iranian government also responded with anti-American slogans. However, the players of the two countries participating in the match created an atmosphere of reconciliation by exchanging flower bouquets and triangular flags engraved with the Korea Football Association pattern. FIFA awarded both teams the Fair Play Award for showing great sportsmanship despite 20 years of adversarial relations.

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