Politics and Sports?

Kaylee Donnelly, Senior Writer

Despite the great soccer that has been shown on the pitch this week, it seems as though this World Cup cannot catch a break from the world outside of it. These matches have definitely had their ups and downs, with Saudi Arabia upsetting global favorite Argentina, as well as Japan upsetting powerhouse Germany. 

Another one of these controversial matches, although not ending in an upset, was the United States vs. England match, which had both nations locked into a centuries old rivalry. The game ended in a draw, which, despite being a massive outcome for a country with soccer as its sixth most popular sport against the notorious “football country,” put the United States in quite a precarious position. Their next game against Iran ended up being a decision maker as to whether or not they would advance into the knockout round. 

However, what is most interesting might have been the days leading up to the match. 

Politics has not been as far removed as some may have liked it to be this World Cup. As previous Beyond the Bison articles have discussed, the World Cup being held in Qatar has come with a myriad of controversies regarding cultural differences and human rights abuses.

But even outside of the location of the World Cup, tensions were drawn between the American national team and Iran in an interesting press conference with Tyler Adams and the United States’ coach. 

The first question from an Iranian reporter called out the United States’ national team’s incorrect use of the old Iranian flag on an Instagram graphic, citing their lack of the Islamic Republic symbol on the flag. The coach of the national team apologized, and stated that his players did not have anything to do with Instagram and that they were focused on the game. 

After that, another Iranian reporter stood to ask a question. He first criticized Adams’ pronunciation of Iran, bringing up the fact that Adams said he supported the people of Iran, yet he could not even pronounce the country correctly. Adams was pronouncing the country incorrectly; however, it must be noted that the pronunciation Adams used is fairly commonplace amongst the American people. 

The reporter then went on to ask another question regarding politics. 

“Are you okay to be representing a country that has so much discrimination against Black people in his own borders?” the reporter said. “We saw the Black Lives Matter movement over the past few years; are you okay to be representing the United States, meanwhile, there’s so much discrimination happening against Black people in America?”

Adams’ response was one of a great captain. He apologized for mispronouncing the country, before addressing the accusations of discrimination. 

“There’s discrimination everywhere you go,” Adams said. “One thing that I’ve learned, especially from living abroad in the past years and having to fit in in different cultures and kind of assimilate into different cultures, is that in the United States, we’re continuing to make progress every single day.” 

He then stressed the importance of education.  

“I think it’s super important, like you just educated me now on the pronunciation of your country. So yeah, it’s a process, I think as long as you see progress, that’s the most important thing.”

Adams’ response was good. However, tensions still exist as Iran calls for the United States to be kicked out of the World Cup for the misuse and disrespect of their flag. Many on the team have stated their outward support of the Iranian people. The Iranian national team has also made their own silent statements in protest of the actions taking place within their own country and have refused to sing along to their national anthem. 

The United States ended up winning the game on Tuesday with a tight 1-0 win. The game was scrappy, and although it might’ve been filled with national tensions and uncertainty, what’s important is that the players themselves showed up to play. At the end of the day that is what the World Cup is about, and the United States has a chance to move on further and prove themselves in the knockout round of this 2022 World Cup.

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