New York Post

Coach, captain juggle political football


The last thing the Iranian press corps wanted to discuss was a soccer match. In a surreal scene Monday in Qatar, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter and team captain Tyler Adams were quizzed on government relations by Iranian journalist­s ahead of the United States’ must-win match against Iran in the World Cup on Tuesday. Berhalter was asked why he hasn’t asked the U.S government to move a U.S. Navy vessel from the Persian Gulf and about U.S. immigratio­n policies, to which the 49-year-old head coach responded, “I don’t know enough about politics, I’m a soccer coach.”

Also in the tense session, Berhalter addressed the social media controvers­y that erupted over the weekend, when U.S. Soccer scrubbed the Islamic Republic emblem from Iran’s flag on posts to show support for protestors in the country. Berhalter said the players and staffers “had no idea about what U.S. Soccer put out” in regard to the posts, which were later deleted.

“All we can do on our behalf is apologize on behalf of the players and the staff, but it’s not something that we are part of,” Berhalter said, adding his thoughts are with the people of Iran.

Adams was asked about mispronoun­cing Iran’s name and “representi­ng a country that has so much discrimina­tion against black people.”

“My apologies on the mispronunc­iation of your country,” Adams said. “That being said, 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.”

Protests have rocked Iran following the September death while allegedly in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for reportedly violating strict hijab rules. Some of Iran’s own players did not sing the country’s national anthem before their World Cup-opening loss to England.

In the wake of the social media controvers­y, the Iranian federation planned to file a complaint with FIFA.

Asked about U.S. Naval policy
GREGG BERHALTER Asked about U.S. Naval policy

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