The world, today, finds itself in a very tentative place. Amongst the big worries is the hair-trigger relationship between the United States and Iran, specifically Tehran's potential nuclear capability. Meanwhile, the streets of Iran are packed with young people demonstrating their dissatisfaction with their country's strict religious authoritarianism. Naturally, I feel supportive of Iranian youth struggling for freedom, human rights and modernity. Alas, many are paying a horrific price for their activism.
It goes without saying, therefore, that today's big football match—the US vs. Iran—bears more weight than your typical Tuesday afternoon sporting match. In their first match at this World Cup (vs. England) the Iranian team remained silent while their national anthem played. They refrained from singing the lyrics. This act resulted in threats of violence against their families back home. "Revolutionary Guards" have been sent to mingle with (that is, monitor) the Iranian players—who have been "instructed to behave" (which means, not protest against the authoritarian regime in Tehran). The Iranian players are also not allowed to fraternize with Western players. Should their team do well at these games, there's a chance that all (or some) may be forgiven.
But this match is also important for the young American team. If America wins (and only if America wins), they will continue-on in the tournament. Should they lose (or tie), they will have hit the end of the road. It will be time to go home. And I'm not ready to see the American team sidelined.
Strong performance by the American national team could do wonders to elevate the sport in the States. Professional football has struggled to get a foothold in America—despite the fact that so many American kids play the game! Many have attempted to diagnose the reason: insufficient violence, low scores, too popular with foreigners. I suspect that football simply has never been able to emerge from the long-established shadows cast by Basketball, Baseball and (especially) American Football.
So, whoever wins, I'll be grateful for the outcome. Why does the world have to be so complicated?
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We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
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