Détente? Iran Soccer Rivals Will Play on US Soil

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2009 3:58 PM CDT
Détente? Iran Soccer Rivals Will Play on US Soil
Iranian football team players celebrate their win over the Iraqi team.   (AP Photo)

Two of Iran’s most bitter soccer rivals may soon become tools of diplomacy, the Guardian reports. Persepolis and Esteghlal Tehran are planning US tours, to culminate in a match, likely in a city with a large Iranian population. “For holding several friendly matches, including one against the Tehran Esteghlal team, Persepolis will travel to the US,” Persepolis’ manager told a state media outlet.

“Has Iran chosen football, in which it is skilled and privileged, compared to pingpong?” an official said, referencing the sport that helped spark US-China détente; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is well known as a soccer enthusiast. Meetings between Persepolis and Eteghlal are notoriously violent, particularly in regard to fans, but the American version could be tamer. (Read more Obama administration stories.)

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