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Iranian Players May Be Out Of The World Cup, But They Stole The Show Anyway


In the past, I found it easy to go against imperialist teams, but that calculation becomes more complicated the more those teams change. Paris-born star Kylian Mbappé has a Cameroonian father and Algerian mother. Antonio Davies of Canada was born in a refugee camp in Ghana. Twelve of the 26 players on the US team are black, much as the 1994, 1998 and 2002 teams combined.

One of them, Sergiño Dest, was born in the Netherlands to a white Dutch mother and an American father of Suriname origin. On Tuesday, 38 minutes into the game, Dest headed the ball to Christian Pulisic, a white American widely regarded as the best player in the country, whose shot gave the United States a 1–1 lead. 0.

“USA!” The crowd around me chanted, high-fived and cheered. I also cheer, raise my arms in victory, and be proud of the country my Filipino elders have immigrated to.

When the Iran-American game started, I counted myself as one of three people of color in a bar with almost a hundred people. Then, early in the second half, two more people took the empty seats next to me, Bassel Heiba ​​Elfeky and Billy Strickland, a recent NYU graduate in Boston, during a physics conference. I quickly realized that Elfeky was supporting Iran. At first, he expressed himself quietly, whispering, then gradually raised his voice as the game became more tense in the final minutes with the United States trying to cling to the lead. hopeless. When the rest of the bar groaned about a penalty for the United States, he pumped money first. While the rest of the bar clapped in support of the US corner, he shook his head.

Elfeky, who grew up in Egypt and moved to the US to attend college, said: “To America, that’s not true. “They have a lot of money. And men make more money than women, although women are a lot better. Then you have Iran, a total underdog.

Strickland, who grew up in LA and is partly of Japanese descent, said he would favor the Japanese team over the US team if they played against each other. Elfeky said he was always against the US men’s soccer team.

“In the end, they played a very boring game,” he said of their tactical style.

In the final minutes of the game, the US neutralized a shot that seemed to end Iran’s game, and Elfeky released a “damn” shot. When the final whistle blew, marking America’s victory, he sighed, shrugged, and said, “It was a good game.” Both teams played hard, helped each other on the pitch and displayed a close friendship that made people say that sport transcends politics. In an Instagram parcelUS player Tim Weah called the Iranian players “an inspiration” for the way they “show so much pride and love for their country and people.”

Elfeky carries with it the frustration familiar to any fan forced to admit that justice rarely prevails in sports. While others around them drank celebratory whiskey, he and Strickland put on their coats and backpacks and headed out. Soon Iran’s players will also go home, to face whatever awaits them.●

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