United States and Iran: a rivalry that runs away from the soccer fields
Photo: FIFA

This edition of the World Cup in Qatar will give us the opportunity to see several duels full of rivalry. In the first phase, the United States and Iran will meet on November 29, at 2 pm, at Al Thumama Stadium. The match is valid for Group B. A match full of history, mainly off the field.

The United States and Iran don’t have a good relationship, including since 2020 the climate between countries is increasingly tense. At the time, the US government carried out a military intervention in Iraq against a convoy of the Special Unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that had just embarked in the country. Through a bombing from US drones, Qassem Soleimani (one of the most powerful men in Iran and head of the Revolutionary Guard) was shot down and died. A successful US defense after several Iranian attacks that killed thousands of Americans in the Middle East. Since then, relations have been tense between both countries after the Iranian government promised revenge.

The relationship between the Americans and the Iranians began in 1953, when an intervention by the United States and the United Kingdom helped to establish the monarchy in the country, aiming that Communism didn’t reach the Middle East, given the movement of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. A measure that put the Americans on the list of enemies of the revolutionaries. There were 26 years of peace and friendly relations between both countries until in 1979 there was the Islamic Revolution and the revolutionaries took control of the country. That same year, revolutionaries kidnapped several American citizens who lived in the country and kept them in prison for 444 days. What happened was the trigger for diplomatic relations to be severed to this day, generating various economic sanctions and political and military support for Arab governments opposing the revolutionaries.


A break in the conflicts between the two countries lasted between 2015 and 2018 when Iran, the United States, China, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany signed an agreement that curbed the production of nuclear weapons. Iran signed with the condition that economic sanctions would also end and as weapons of high destructive power were mass-produced by the Iranians and threatened world security, the agreement was accepted. However, this agreement was broken by the United States after discovering that Iran continued to produce “hidden” nuclear weapons, putting the Americans in a vulnerable situation, therefore, economic sanctions returned and military interventions in the Middle East aimed at US defense were carried out as mentioned in the previous paragraphs.

In soccer, this will be the second time that both teams face each other. The first and only time was at the 1998 World Cup, when Iran beat the United States 2-1 in a match valid for Group F. At the time, both teams did not pass the stage, while Germany and Yugoslavia advanced to the round of 16. Iran finished the competition in 3rd place with 3 points and the United States finished in last place without winning any points.