FIFA World Cup: Iran journalists grill USA manager about racism and military presence ahead of crucial World Cup clash

Iranian journalists grilled US manager Gregg Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams with questions about racism and military presence in the Persian Gulf. This came ahead of a crunch encounter between the geopolitical rivals today (November 29).

Both sides are looking to reach the round of 16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Team Melli are second in Group B with three points in two games while their rivals are third with two.

The winner of the contest will book their place in the next round. Iran could even qualify with a draw should Wales fail to beat leaders England in the other match in the group.

Iran vs USA, 29th of November at 20.00 CET.You don’t want to miss this one.

Ahead of the kickoff, Berhalter and Adams were grilled with questions about geopolitics instead of the match by Iranian journalists during the pre-match press conference.

The United States skipper was also rebuked for his pronunciation of the Middle East nation. A reporter then pressed him on the issue of racism in his country.

The reporter said (via Mirror):

“First of all you say you support the Iranian people but you’re pronouncing our country’s name wrong. Our country is name Iran, not ‘aye-ran’… Second of all, are you okay to be representing your country that has so much discrimination against black people in its own borders?”

Adams replied:

“My apologies on the mispronunciation of your country. That being said, there’s discrimination everywhere you go… in the US. we’re continuing to make progress every single day… as long as you make progress that’s the most important thing.”

It was followed by a question on the presence of the US military in the Persian Gulf, with the reporter asking:

“Sport is something that should bring nations closer together and you are a sportsperson. Why is it that you should not ask your government to take away its military fleet from the Persian Gulf?”

Berhalter replied:

“I agree, sport is something that should bring countries together… you get to compete as brothers.”

However, the coach eventually hit back at political questions after he was pressed about strict visa regulations for Iranian citizens visiting the United States. He said:

“I don’t know enough about politics, I’m a soccer coach. I’m not well versed on international politics so I can’t comment on that.”

The two sides will face each other at the Al Thumama Stadium later today.

Iran and USA meet in a politically charged match

The two countries have seen a frosty relationship over the last 40 years. Tensions between them remain as high as ever ahead of their first football encounter since January 2000.

The Stars and Stripes also recently sparked controversy. They posted an image of the Iranian flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic in a show of solidarity with the protestors. However, it irked the Middle Eastern country’s government, who later called for the side to be disqualified from the competition.

They beat the USA 2-1 in the 1998 edition in one of the most politically charged encounters in World Cup history. Given the animosity that persists between them geopolitically, you can expect another tense clash here in Qatar.

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Edited by Aditya Singh

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