“It will be a very important match. Not because it is about politics, but because both teams want to continue in the championship,” Berhalter says.
The 49-year-old American, who has played football in the Netherlands for PEC Zwolle, Sparta Rotterdam and SC Cambuur, underlines the sporting interests in the run-up to the much-discussed clash. “I’ve played and trained in many countries. You get to know a lot of people. Football is connected. It’s not about politics now, it’s about sporting interests. This will be a kind of knockout duel: win or take home.”
And the American football players have two points in the second group after two matches, after they tied with Wales (1-1) and England (0-0). Iran started the World Cup with a heavy defeat against the English (2-6), but then won 2-0 against Wales. The Americans must win to get to the eighth finals, and perhaps a draw will suffice for Iran.
On the political front, relations between the United States and Iran have been tense for some time. US President Joe Biden decided last month to impose economic sanctions on Iran over the way the Iranian government is dealing with the protests in the country.
The United States and Iran also met in the group stage of the 1998 World Cup. Then the Iranians won 2-1. Both countries were eliminated in the group stage.
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