US beats Iran in World Cup amid political controversy

Sports

(NewsNation) — In a make-or-break World Cup matchup, Team USA secured the victory, beating Iran 1-0.

While the game is over, the clash between the two countries has continued, mixed with political tensions off the field.

Before Tuesday’s loss, Iran called for the U.S. to be banned from this year’s World Cup.

The demand came after the U.S Soccer Federation (USSF) tweeted and then deleted an altered image of the Iranian flag  — one without the Islamic Republic emblem — in what appeared to be the U.S.’s show of support for human rights protests in Iran. 

“All we can do on our behalf is apologize on behalf of the players and the staff. But it’s not something that we are part of,” Gregg Berhalter, coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT), said of the incident.  

Tensions even boiled over to the pre-match FIFA press conference Monday: A journalist working for a state-run Iranian network asked U.S. captain Tyler Adams how he, as a Black player, could support the United States given its mistreatment of Black people. 

This came after the journalist corrected Adams on the proper pronunciation of Iran. 

“There’s discrimination everywhere you go,” Adams said. “In the U.S., we’re continuing to make progress every single day.”

As tension swelled, Team USA, fans and even a former U.S. player worked to keep the focus on the game and not the politics.

“I think we need to focus on the sport, the result, and what every team has sacrificed the last four years to qualify,” Oguchi Onyewu, a former American soccer player, said while speaking to NewsNation.

Team USA will now play the Netherlands in the knockout round on Saturday.

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