Win or lose, the Iranians are torn apart by their World Cup squad

Eince the World Cup kicked off, many Iranians have been torn over whether to support their national team at a time of mass protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16 as She was in police custody, after she was detained for allegedly violating mandatory hijab laws. That tension has increased as Iran and the United States face off at 10 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST) on Tuesday in a match that could determine which team advances to the knockout stage.

As the FinancialTimes reported, some Iranians want their team to lose. “I was just wondering where I made this huge mistake raising him. How could he support the mullahs’ team? Soheila, a 58-year-old former nurse in Tehran, told the newspaper her son’s support for the Iranian national team.

The Islamic Republic cited the team’s success on the pitch, raising concerns about “sportswashing”. “Iranian national team players have made the Iranian nation happy. May God make them happy,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday following Iran’s surprise 2-0 victory on Wales.

But for Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the reluctance of some Iranians to support their team “tipped” after the victory against Wales. “Iranians love [soccer]. Despite all the politics surrounding their team, the enthusiasm they showed in the game against Wales had a contagious effect,” said Adib-Moghaddam.

Below is a rundown of the controversy around Iran’s squad ahead of Tuesday’s game, and a look at the country’s chances of advancing to the knockout stage for the first time ever.

The US-Iran press conference with Tyler Adams

During a press conference on Monday, US head coach Gregg Berhalter and US team captain Tyler Adams answered questions from Iranian state television reporters about relations between the two governments, as well as on their personal beliefs. “We support the Iranian people and the Iranian team. But that being said, we’re focused on this game, so are they,” Adams said, with a mispronunciation of the country’s name that led to further questions.

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An Iranian journalist from the state channel PressTV Adams corrected pronunciation. “First of all, you say you support the people of Iran, but you mispronounce the name of our country,” he said, throwing a series of political questions at the pair that stood in stark contrast to most lectures. pre-match press briefing.

The representation of the Iranian flag by the American football federation

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) briefly changed the Iranian flag on social media, displaying it without the Islamic Republic emblem. According to a statement from the USSF on Sunday, the 24-hour decision was an attempt to show “support for women in Iran who are fighting for basic human rights.” The move was not well received by pro-regime figures in Iran, with the government calling on FIFA to expel the squad from the World Cup over the move.

Team Iran’s tightrope walk

Ahead of Iran’s first game against England on November 20, star player Ehsan Hajsafi told a press conference: “I would like to express my condolences to all the bereaved families in Iran. They should know that we are with them, that we support them and that we sympathize with them. The team then remained silent during their national anthem during the match. But the players backtracked and sang the anthem in the November 25 match against Wales, days after former national player and regime critic Voria Ghafouri was arrested in Tehran.

Criticism of the words of former American coach Jürgen Klinsmann

Jürgen Klinsmann, a FIFA official and former US coach, has come under fire after comments he made on Friday criticizing Iran’s “mandate”. Klinsmann has repeatedly said it is “in the culture” of Iranians to be unsportsmanlike and heckle referees. “It’s not by chance, it’s on purpose. It’s just part of their culture, it’s how they play,” he said. “They work the referee, you you’ve seen the bench always jumping, always working the linesman, constantly in their ears, they’re constantly in your face,” Klinsmann said, adding that Iran coach Carlos Queiroz – a Portuguese-Mozambican national – fits right in there.

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Upon hearing those comments, Queiroz called on Klinsmann to step down from his role as a member of FIFA’s technical study group in a Twitter feed posted on Saturday, where he called the remarks “damaging”, “outrageous” and a “shame on football”.

Klinsmann defended his comments, saying Queiroz “took it the wrong way.” The former Tottenham striker also said he would call Queiroz to ‘calm things down’.

Can Iran qualify for the knockout stage?

The most likely outcome is England beating Wales and the United States beating Iran in the final two matches in Group B on Tuesday, according to US statistics site FiveThirtyEight. Both games take place simultaneously at 10 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST). But Iran could advance with a draw or win, depending on the outcome of the England-Wales game.

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Write to Armani Syed at


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