In almost no cases is the primary focus of an international athletic competition just what takes on during the game itself.
If teams play against one another often enough – in contests or tournaments – the meetings between them might be about nothing more than attempting to perform at their highest level on the field and come out on top.
Oftentimes, though, particularly if the teams do not play often, the faceoffs may be weighted with history, and usually a history of difficulties. India and Pakistan have used their international cricketing contests as a form of “sports diplomacy,” but unfortunately, such games can sometimes spark violence between opposing supporters in other countries, such as the United Kingdom. India and Pakistan have used their contests as a form of “sports diplomacy” in the past.
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Similarly, at the 2018 Winter Olympics, the two Koreas looked to make actual headway toward unification. This was spearheaded by South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-younger Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong, and the two countries played as a single “Korea” in the ice hockey tournament.
What are we to make of the next World Cup matchup between the United States and Iran, a match that the United States really has to win in order to go further in the competition? A tie would eliminate the United States and leave Iran’s fate dependent on whether or not Wales defeated England.
Although diplomatic contacts between the two nations were severed in 1980 during the Iranian Revolution, Tuesday’s match in Qatar will not be the first time that Iran and Qatar have competed against one other in football.
During the World Cup that was staged in France in June of 1998, the United States of America played Iran and lost 2-1. Several people who were part in the game remarked that it helped break down biases and establish a new understanding.
Two years later, in a friendly competition that took place in Pasadena, California, the two teams battled to a 1-1 draw.
“Overcoming challenges and stumbling blocks in diplomatic negotiations may be accomplished via the medium of sports. In view of the recent rallies in favor of women and human rights in Iran, which has attracted worldwide attention, I believe the players and supporters on both sides will find more common ground than animosity,” Profeesor Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet of the University of Pennsylvania told The Independent.
“The players, along with other notable athletes, are under under scrutiny, and the fact that they have engaged in acts of civil disobedience puts them in jeopardy with the Islamic Republic’s security forces. However, they are also residents of a nation that is through a great deal of upheaval, and they made the choice to show their support for the social demonstrations that are taking place in Iran, which many people appreciated.
The competition that is taking place this week is taking place at a time when relations between the United States and Iran are at a particularly tense point. The United States and Iran were among the signatories to a nuclear deal in 2015 that was intended to halt any nuclear weapons ambitions that Tehran may have in exchange for the lifting of sanctions and a partial return to the international arena. However, relations between the two countries have become particularly tense in recent months.
In 2018, President Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal and reimposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran. This was one of the factors that further pushed Tehran into the orbit of Vladimir Putin, who is currently continuing his invasion of Ukraine while reportedly using Iranian drones.
There is more to this. The game is taking place at the same time that widespread protests are taking place in Iran. These demonstrations were sparked by the death of a young Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini. Mahsa Amini passed away shortly after being taken into custody by Iran’s morality police. She had been reprimanded for apparently not wearing a hijab.
The Iranian government and its supporters have accused the West of attempting to arrange the demonstrations, despite the fact that the protestors have won adulation from people all over the world and that their efforts have been acknowledged by members of Iran’s team earlier this month.
Under Trump’s administration, the United States’ approach to Iran consisted of undermining the government and attempting to compel change. Biden has been a bit less open about Washington’s objectives, but when he told a midterm campaign event, “Don’t worry, we’re going to liberate Iran. “, he was perhaps speaking too honestly than his advisers would have wanted. They’re going to be able to break away relatively quickly.”
Proponents of the Iranian government, including academics like Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a professor at Tehran University in Iran, have been playing down the scale of the protests, while at the same time drawing attention to incidents in which members of the security forces have reportedly been killed.
Mr. Marandi, who does not immediately answer to queries prior to the game, tweeted, “As predicted, after killing over 60 officers, western sponsored riots/terror have failed.” Mr. Marandi does not immediately react to enquiries.
“Western elites fall victim to their own propaganda and make incorrect assumptions about Iran.”
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Even though many people in the West are familiar with the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which brought to power an Islamist government headed by the previously exiled religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini, and the taking hostage of 52 US diplomats at the American Embassy in Tehran, less is discussed about the events that occurred prior to this revolution.
In 1953, the United States and the United Kingdom staged a coup that resulted in the installation of the pro-western monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeg. According to experts, this event was crucial to such an understanding.
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In April of 1980, formal diplomatic ties were severed between the two countries. Since then, relations between the two countries have continued on largely unchanged, despite the fact that there have been clear thaws after the election in Iran of reformers such as Mohammad Khatami, who was first elected in 1997, and Hassan Rouhani, whose foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif played a major role in securing the 2016 nuclear deal.
In addition to this, the rhetoric that has been coming from other leaders has not ceased. For instance, during his first State of the Union speech in 2002, George W. Bush alluded to Iran as a member of a so-called “axis of evil.” Iran was mentioned in this context.
Ayatollah Khamenei, the leader of Iran, often uses the term “US regime,” and he has said that the Iranian people would continue to cry “Death to America” as long as the United States is an evil nation.
When Iran triumphed against the United States in 1998, Negar Mortazavi, an Iranian-American writer and political commentator, was only a teenager living in Tehran at the time.
She said that everyone started pouring out into the streets as if they had just won the whole competition.
She says this as she is speaking from Washington, DC. “Just winning the game in the cup, and having that game and the score versus the US was such a historic event,” she adds.
“The outcome of this game will have a huge impact. It is being monitored very carefully at this time. It is also the most politically charged game between the two sides, and if Iran wins, it will also become highly historic since this would be a second triumph over the US. It is also the most politically charged game between the two sides.
She continues by saying, “And it might also perhaps help them qualify for the next round, which again would be a first for Iran in the history of the world cup, and it would be unparalleled.”
Mortazavi argues that it seems that a number of players have been put under pressure, as seen by the fact that they have toned down the vociferous support for the demonstrators back in Iran that they had declared before to the game with England.
She is of the opinion that despite the fact that there is animosity between the two countries, the players have shown that they plan to focus on the match. She claims that there is a precedent for this, explaining that wrestlers from Iran and the United States have developed true camaraderie over the years, despite the fact that tensions between their respective governments have remained high.
“We see them really putting their best into it and simply focused on the game,” she continues. “We see them putting their best into it.”
- Information Obtained From: The Independent
In the days leading up to the match on Tuesday, there had been a bit of gamesmanship, or a genuine insult depending on how you saw it, when it came to light that the United States Soccer Federation had briefly displayed Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. This incident came to light just before the match.
It stated the action had been done to assist the protestors, but Iran replied by claiming it looked the US was “removing the sign of Allah” off the Iranian flag. This was in response to the US stating the measure had been taken to encourage the protesters.
An consultant to the Iranian Football Federation named Safiollah Fagahanpour was reported by the Iranian news agency ISNA as claiming that the “measures taken respecting the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran are against the regulations” of tournaments organized by FIFA. “It is imperative that they be held accountable,” Fagahanpour said.
By acting in this manner, it is clear that they want to influence Iran’s performance in its conflict with the United States.
Gregg Berhalter, the manager of the United States national team, issued an apology on Monday for the incident.
During a news conference, Berhalter said that both the team’s players and its coaching staff were unaware of what had been put online.
“There are certain things over which we have no control. We anticipate that the outcome of the match will be determined by whether team works harder and performs more effectively on the field.
In addition to that, he said, “And we’re not focused on those external things.” It’s not something that we are a part of, so all we can do is apologize on behalf of the players and the staff, but that’s all we can do on our end.
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