Iran News ...


3/26/09

Sports Diplomacy: Iranian Soccer Clubs Persepolis and Esteqlal planning to play in US

Source: Press TV

Persepolis and Esteqlal plan a friendly derby in the US after an Iranian politician likened the recent Iran-US relations to a game of soccer.

"Persepolis will be traveling to the US for several friendly matches, including one against Tehran's Esteqlal," the club's Executive Manager Abbas Ansari-Fard told the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network.

"At the moment, we are in correspondence with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get a permit for the tour," he added.

Crowd gathered at Tehran's Azadi Stadium for an April 2008 Perspolis vs. Esteghlal match


Ansari-Fard explained that the trip would be funded by one of the team's sponsors, but he did not specify which company. He also said that a date had not yet been set for the match.

The executive manager's comments came after Expediency Council member and former commander of the Islamic Republic Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezaei, said that 'Iran has kicked the ball well into the American side of the field' in an article posted by Tabnak.

Rezaie's article explored the implications of a speech by Iran's Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, after Obama's message marking Nowruz, the start of the Iranian New Year.

US President Barack Obama said he was ready to bring 'new beginnings' to relations with Tehran, but he also brought up previous unsavory accusations about Iran sponsoring terrorism.
 


Perspolis vs. Esteghlal teams in an October 2007 match in Tehran

Although the Leader said Obama's comments showed no sign of change, he did not rule out the possibility of a more harmonious co-existence between the two states.

Considering both parties hesitance about taking their relations to the next level, some see a sporting event as a window of opportunity that might help achieve that goal.

A face-off between the two soccer teams from the Iranian capital has the potential to draw large crowds in American cities, especially those with large Iranian communities, such as Los Angeles, where the match is expected to take place.

Persepolis and Esteqlal are among Asia's most popular teams. A derby between the two sides usually drags around 100,000 fans from around the country to Tehran's Azadi Stadium.

US politicians used 'ping-pong diplomacy' to mend ties with China and prepare the grounds for the-then US president, Richard Nixon's visit to the country. The question is whether Iranian and American policy makers will now test a similar approach.

"Has Iran chosen soccer, at which it is more skilled, over to ping-pong?" asks Rezaie.
 

... Payvand News - 03/25/16 ... --



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