The long-standing conflict between Iran and US has gaslighted during the FIFA World Cup, 2022 face off, pushing it beyond the stadium into geopolitics.
The political overtones have come into the fragile situation as the US and Iran have this face off in Qatar on Tuesday .
While talking to the CNBC report, the Iranian state media asked for the termination of the US World Cup team from the 2022 FIFA tournament being held in Qatar.
This was in the backdrop of the protests taking place in Iran that the US erased their emblem of the Iranian Republic from the Iran flag in its latest social media post to show its solidarity.
So the match is set to be filled with political undertones.
Back 24 years ago, the face-off between the US and Iran in the World Cup took place which is still considered as one of the most politically charged sports events.
These tensions are at a risk of escalating in the upcoming months, irrespective of the match outcomes.
The match clashes with the ongoing nationwide protest in Iran, and its expanding nuclear policy and number of other regional and international attacks.
Iran US relations
Iran recalls the 1953 CIA backed coup that cemented Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s power. Whereas the Americans point at the 1970 US Embassy takeover and the hostage crisis during the Iranian revolution that lasted around 444 days.
However, this is only the second time that both of the countries have played against each other in the World Cup.
The last time they had a face off was during the 1998 tournament in France and this was a time when the Islamic republic won by 2:1 in Lyon which was widely celebrated in Tehran.
The supreme leader at that time, praised the team making boastful comments about the arrogant opponents’ defeat.
However, the then President of Iran strived to improve its relation with the West, and the wider world.
Khatami called for the reform policies in Iran that seeked to liberalize the state without disturbing the political system in Iran that had a supreme leader on the top.
The then US President Bill Clinton hoped that the Khatami election would thaw the ice. Both the team posed together for the photograph with Iranian players, handing white flowers to their counterpart American players.
They also exchanged jerseys and later also had a friendly match in Pasadena, California.
24 years down the line, the relationship between the two nations is far more tense and fragile than they have ever been before.
Iran US politics
After the election of the President Ebrahim Raisi, Iran is now ruled by hardliners. The nuclear deal between Iran and the US still is a matter of contention between the two.
Donald Trump in 2018, withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) stating that it did not succeed in curtailing Iran’s missile program and increasing regional influence and also re-imposed all the sanctions earlier lifted under the treaty.
This led Iran to enrich its uranium capacity to 60% purity. The Non-Proliferation experts say that Iran already has uranium enough to make at least one nuclear bomb.
It has been two months since Iran has been engulfed by the mass protest following the death of , the 22 year Mahsa Amini old girl who was detained by the country’s morality police.
The protests have led to the killing of at least 500 people with arrests of thousands as per the Human Rights Activists, an advocacy group in Iran.
The US state department spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus told the Associated Press that this was one of those moments when geopolitics and sports collided.