Move aside ping pong diplomacy; the US-Iran detente could move forward thanks to soccer. The American and Iranian national soccer teams may play in a friendly tournament in April, initiated and hosted by the US, Iranian media reported Saturday.
“US football officials are interested in holding a four-team tournament, featuring the US, Iran, a South American team, and a European team,” Iranian Football Federation chief Ali Kafashian was quoted saying.
According to China’s Xinhua news agency, the US invited Iran to the tourney, which would be held in the States ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
“We received approval from the US federation to attend the tournament,” Kafashian added.
Iranian head coach Carlos Quiroz told Tasnim news Saturday that he welcomed the idea. He said that the Iranian team would hold a training camp in the US ahead of the World Cup next summer in Brazil, for which the US and Iran have already qualified.
The match would only be the third time the two national teams have played each other.
Iran beat the US 2-1 in the 1998 World Cup in France, in what was the Islamic Republic’s first World Cup tournament victory. Despite pre-match political tensions, the two sides gave each other gifts before kick-off and posed for photographs together. The defeat to Iran led to the US’s elimination from the tournament. Iran also failed to make it past the initial group round.
The two squads drew 1-1 in Pasadena, California two years later.