U.S. men's soccer team in talks with Iran for potential pre-World Cup game
The United States men's national soccer team is in talks with Iran's squad to hold a pre-World Cup friendly match on American soil, according to a report Wednesday from FOX Sports.
Dan Gaspar, an American citizen who serves as the goalie coach for Iran's national team, said in an e-mail to FOX Sports that a final decision will be made after the World Cup draw on Dec. 6. But he confirmed that the two teams are currently engaged in "preliminary discussions" about a potential match:
"There [have] been preliminary discussions regarding the possibility of a USA and Iran match. There is genuine interest on both sides to have this possible match become a reality. Things are in motion and I believe a final decision will be made after the World Cup draw on December 6.”
What remains to be seen, however, is whether the two teams will end up in the same World Cup draw; as Leander Schaerlaeckens points out in the report, it's unlikely -- for "tactical considerations" -- that the two sides would move forward with the proposed game if they end up in the same group.
Regardless of whether plans for the game actually comes to fruition, Gaspar said in the e-mail that the mere discussion of holding the friendly is something from which the world will benefit because it is a "gesture towards diplomacy" for both countries:
“For 90 minutes [it’s] an ideal gesture towards diplomacy and could be a launching pad towards respectful, honest and peaceful solutions. The world would benefit from such discussions.”
The U.S. Soccer Federation confirmed that it is looking to hold a pre-World Cup training camp in the United States for the group of countries that qualify for the World Cup, which is set to be held in Brazil in June 2014.
Wednesday's report of the possible game between Iran and the U.S. comes approximately two weeks after President Barack Obama had a phone conversation with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani about improving relations between them. On the field, the U.S. and Iran have played each other twice -- at the 1998 World Cup and again two years later in a game in Pasadena, Calif., 21 years after the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979.