Iran vs USA | In a football game that is unavoidably being viewed through the lens of politics. Only one of them can advance from Group B.

FIFA standings:

Iran (20), USA (16)

A political rivalry between Iran and the USA, two nations with a long history of hostility. Was rekindled in a World Cup clash that was used by supporters of both sides to disparage the other team.

At the 1998 World Cup, Iran defeated the United States 2-1, and that is how the game was advertised. And while some government supporters in Iran used the victory as confirmation of their nation’s impending victory over the “Great Satan,” others saw it as a chance to demonstrate how the “beautiful game” could unite people despite differences. As evidenced by a pre-game photo featuring players from both teams mingling together.

In 2022, the group stage has once again brought the two people together. The political rift is still present and has only grown worse.

Iran is now subject to US sanctions because Iran and the USA are unable to reach an agreement on a nuclear deal. The international community and the US administration have condemned the anti-government demonstrations in Iran. The Americans are allegedly among those behind the protests, according to the Iranians.

Controversies have existed long before the World Cup started. Following a US Soccer social media post that included an altered version of the Iranian flag. Iran requested that the USA be eliminated from the competition.

And the previous manager of the USA, the German Jurgen Klinsmann, enraged Iran by telling the BBC that bad behaviour was a part of Iran’s “culture.”

In light of the rallies asking for women’s rights in Iran, Iranian supporters are still undecided about whether to even support the squad. Some in the anti-government side worry that the regime will use an Iranian triumph against the USA as propaganda.