EXPLAINER: Politically, not too correct in this World Cup

Here's a detailed look at all the politics at this World Cup, how it has reached this stage and what the next few days holds...

Published: 29th November 2022 09:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th November 2022 09:24 PM   |  A+A-

An Iran team supporter cries as she holds a shirt that reads 'Mahsa Amini' prior to the start of the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, Nov. 25, 2022. (Photo | AP)

By Express News Service

An already political World Cup for the reasons already explained on these pages faced yet more questions on the eve of Iran vs US, one of the most politically loaded games there is (late on Tuesday). Here's a detailed look at all the politics at this World Cup, how it has reached this stage and what the next few days holds...

What happened before Iran v. US?
Two days before the match, some social media handles of the US football federation doctored Iran's flag for a time period. They claimed they did it to stand in solidarity with the protesters in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini. In retaliation, Iran wanted FIFA to expel US from the World Cup.

Did the US team say anything?
In the pre-match press conference, US coach Gregg Berhalter apologised. However, that wasn't the end of it. Iran's journalists (the context is their players have been asked a lot of questions about the protests back home from journalists from other countries as the players have seemingly supported these protests by refusing to sing the national anthem and so on) decided to question both Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams. Berhalter was asked about the presence of a vessel in the Persian Gulf. Adams was asked about 'representing a country that has so much discrimination against black people'.

What did Adams say?
"... there’s discrimination everywhere you go. 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 assimilating to different cultures, is that in the U.S. We’re continuing to make progress every single day."

Any other thing that has happened?
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz actually asked English media to ask political questions to England coach, Gareth Southgate. Faced with having to answer political questions before Iran's game against Wales, he said: "Why don’t you ask the other coaches?” Queiroz asked. "Why don’t you ask Southgate: 'what do you think about England and the United States that left Afghanistan and all the women alone?'" Players of almost all western European nations have been asked about the rainbow armbands (federations decided to wear them to stand in solidarity of the LGBT community in Qatar but backed out after FIFA threatened sanctions). Germany protested in a unique way by placing a hand over their mouths but didn't repeat that in their second match against Spain.

Did Germany say why they stopped?
Nope. But Ilkay Gundogan, who has a Muslim heritage, said he was 'proud' that Qatar is hosting the World Cup. It's significant because he's one of the first from a western country to express these views. "My point of view is now the politics are finished. Qatar is very proud, very proud to host it, also first muslim country, I come from a muslim family, the muslim community is proud, now it is about enjoying and celebrating football," he said.

What's in store in the next few days?
There will likely be another round of wire play after the match between Iran and US. But Serbia v. Switzerland is another hot button match. At the 2018 event, these two sides clashed. Swiss goal-scorers Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri celebrated with a double-eagle celebration. It's a nationalist symbol in Albania. This relates to historical political tensions in the Balkans and it didn't go down well in Serbia.

India Matters


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