American soccer player Tyler Adams and U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter held a World Cup press conference on Monday. Iranian journalists hijacked the press conference and focused on asking political questions instead of questions about the games. Both Berhalter and Adams kept calm and answered all questions. One answer given by Adams was perfect.
Iranian officials are pissed off at the American team because of a temporary tweet posted for only 24 hours which was meant to show support for Iranian women protesting for human rights. The United States Soccer Federation changed Iran’s flag on its social media platforms – Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Iran’s national flag was displayed on the Group B standings on Saturday without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The Iranian flag only displayed its green, white, and red colors. After 24 hours, the tweet was deleted but not before mayhem from the Iranians pursued.
As I wrote earlier, Iranian officials demanded that Team USA be kicked out of the World Cup competition for violating FIFA rules when they posted the altered version of the flag. The Tasnim news agency tweeted their support by changing its Twitter page to show a header photo of an American flag burning. Tasnim is an Iran state-aligned news agency. So, today’s bad behavior from Iranian journalists may not have been much of a surprise. Both Berhalter and Adams looked unfazed.
The U.S. team is set to play the Iranian team in a make or break game (for the U.S. team) tomorrow.
One Iranian journalist asked Adams about racial discrimination in America and chided him for wrongly pronouncing ‘Iran’.
Minutes later, a journalist from Press TV – an English language Iranian news organisation – said: ‘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?’ he asked pointedly.
Adams, whose mother is a White American but whose biological father is African-American, responded cordially: ‘My apologies on the mispronunciation of your country. That being said, there’s discrimination everywhere you go… in the U.S. we’re continuing to make progress every single day… as long as you make progress that’s the most important thing.’
Perfect, right? There’s discrimination everywhere. It’s not just an American thing and noting regular progress was just right. You’ll note he didn’t start apologizing or trashing America – no support for the Black Lives Matter movement or taking a knee. The Iranian brought up BLM, not Adams. He just answered the question from his own personal experience. He said he has lived in other countries and it can be a problem everywhere.
The coach was asked about America’s military fleet in the Persian Gulf. Yes, really.
Another question had begun by asking “why does your government not take away its military fleet from the Persian Gulf?” while another journalist wanted to know why, as an American, Berhalter was “more than welcome” in Iran but that people with an Iranian passport could not automatically enter the USA.
“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,” said Berhalter, who added that sport can bring people together to “compete as brothers”.
Both answered questions by saying they aren’t experts in politics. Adams said the U.S. players would “continue to show our support and empathy for what is happening to the Iranian team and people” but the team is “laser-focused” on the game tomorrow.
The Iranian coach, Carlos Queiroz, said he hoped the next World Cup if less about politics and more about football.
Speaking ahead of his team’s Group B match on Tuesday against the United States, Queiroz was asked about the U.S. Soccer federation temporarily displaying Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, in solidarity with the protest movement.
‘I still believe I can win games with those mental games,’ he told a news conference.
‘Those events surrounding this World Cup I hope will be a lesson for all of us in the future and we learn that our mission is here to create entertainment and for 90 minutes make people happy.’
Tomorrow’s match against Iran is the first knockout game of the World Cup for the U.S. team. If they don’t win, they will be eliminated from the World Cup.