World Cup: Iran and Mexico

Co-authored by Farid Pouya and David Sasaki

As the New York Times World Cup '06 weblog observes, most of the press coverage leading up to Sunday's Iran-Mexico match had little to do with football and much ado about … tense European-Iranian relations. First there were the German Green Party politicians demanding that Iran be banned from the tournament. Then German cartoonist Klaus Stuttmann received death threats for his cartoon depicting the Iranian soccer team with explosives strapped to their chest. And on game day, demonstrators marched in Nuremberg against what Gateway Pundit describes as “anti-Semitism and recent inflammatory remarks made by Irans's president.”

Most of the coverage on Mexico was more mild in comparison, focusing on the untimely death of goal keeper, Oswaldo Sanchez's father just days before the match. As Erwin Cifuentes of The Latin Americanist relates, “in a touching gesture, Iranian goalie Vahid Hasheminian presented Sanchez with a bouquet of flowers during the pre-game ceremonies.” However, some fans will remember an admittedly indirect relation between Mexico and the Middle East when Mexican fans booed the US national anthem and chanted “Osama! Osama!” during a 2005 match.

Sunday's game remained tied at 1-1 until the 76th minute when Omar Bravo scored his second goal followed by a Zinha header three minutes later. Here is what Mexican and Iranian bloggers had to say about the match:

From Mexico:


Después de un primer tiempo que inició con un gol de México pero que estuvo bastante mediocre, flojo e impreciso, la calidad de juego mexicano mejoró mucho durante el segundo tiempo. El marcador final 3:1 es merecido, ya que el juego de los mexicanos fue indudablemente mejor durante toda la segunda parte del encuentro. Un triunfo merecido ya que se jugó con ganas. Claro, para los siguientes encuentros habrá que mejorar el nivel para no caer en la mediocridad. Los jugadores tendrán que soltarse, jugar sin prejuicios y hacerlo por lo menos igual de bien que en la segunda parte de este encuentro.

After a first half that started with a goal by Mexico, but was otherwise mediocre, lazy, and imprecise, the quality of Mexican play improved a lot during the second half. The final score of 3:1 is deserved as the play of the Mexicans was undoubtedly better during the entire second half of the game. A deserved win as it was played with effort. Clearly, in the following matches they will have to improve the level of their game to not fall into mediocrity.

Ciudad de México:

Desde hace tiempo no he podido dejar de pensar en el partido que México disputará ante Irán en Nuremberg el domingo 11 de junio. No dejo de imaginarme sentado frente al televisor a las 11 de la mañana del domingo rodeado de toda mi familia y amigos con los nervios de ver saltar a los verdes al campo. No puedo esperar ver a los más de 31 mil paisanos que fueron hasta Alemania entonar nuestro himno nacional. Y me muero por gritar el primero, el segundo, el tercero… los goles que sean necesarios para dejar a los iraníes en el campo …

For a long time now I couldn't stop thinking about the game that Mexico would play against Iran in Nuremberg on June 11th. I didn't stop imagining myself seated in front of the television at 11 a.m. on Sunday, surrounded by all of my family and friends, nervous as they take to the green field. I couldn't wait to see more than 31 thousand of my countrymen who went all the way to Germany to sing our national hymn. And I was dying to yell out for the first, second, third … the goals that would be necessary to leave the Iranians behind …


The world cup tournament is on the t.v., and even patricio's friend and co-worker, marcos, is taking the day off to watch the beginnings of a full month of fútbol. a fellow expat, working as an engineer for a toluca-branch cement company, received a corporate announcement on thursday stating that “all employees were entitled to either A) have a TV installed at work with the games playing or B) stay home and watch the game…with their bosses’ approval.”

From Iran:

Alpar says we had a good start, but a tragic end. The blogger criticized Ali Dai whose presence was useless. He says we played a much better match than had been expected.

Noghte says played one half well and that it was a misunderstanding! After Mexico scored the second goal, he stopped watching the game and prefered to read the writings of dissident journalist, Akbar Ganji.

Blog News writes that when the Iranian team scored they lost all motivation and played a defensive game which caused them to lose.

1 comment

  • Hello Farid, David. Great writeup.

    I didn’t know about the kind gesture by Vahid towards Oswaldo.

    Getting back on topic, I guess political topics sometimes can’t be separated from sports.

    An interesting example is political and burocreatic impediments Iraqi and Palestinian soccer teams faced when trying to qualify for the World Cup. There is a great video about it. It’s called “Frontline Soccer: Palestine vs. Iraq” < >.

    Both teams are from military-occupied territories… and nowadays religion and politics play an important role in their lifes… they’ve got it hard…

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