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USMNT Face Wild News Conference Ahead Of Iran Match

This one covered some ground!


Iranian journalist attempted to hijack a pre-match news conference ahead of a win-or-go-home Group B game between the U.S. Men's National Team and Iran on Tuesday.


USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams were hammered with politically-charged questions about recently deleted posts on U.S. Soccer social media accounts, naval deployments, visa rules for Iranian citizens, Black Lives Matter and racism in the United States.


There was also a question that USMNT fans will want to hear Berhalter's answer to about Gio Reyna's playing time (See below). But that answer and others about GGG's squad were overshadowed by the questions posed by Iranian reporters who had no apparent interest in discussing the match set to take place in Qatar's Al Thumana stadium.

 


 

The first question from an Iranian journalist immediately set the tone for what proved to be a highly charged encounter.


The reporter asked Berhalter: 'What percentage of the world's population will be happy if Iran wins this match [versus a U.S. national team victory]?' forcing the coach to try and mediate the tension.


"For us it's a soccer game against a good team - it's not much more than that," Berhalter responded.


But the coach's efforts to refocus the questioning were totally ignored.


Minutes later, a journalist from Press TV - an English language Iranian news organization berated Adams about his pronunciation of Iran and asked whether he was OK with representing a racist country. The response from Adamas was both classy and admirable.


The tense news conference followed drama caused by the U.S. soccer federation's social media team,. who displayed Iran's national flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic in support of anti-regime protests in the country, causing Iran's government to call on FIFA to expel Team USA from the tournament.


That apparently opened the door for other questions from Iranian media like this: "Sport is something that should bring nations closer together and you are a sportsperson. Why is it that you should not ask your government to take away its military fleet from the Persian Gulf?"


Berhalter is hardly Admiral Chester Nimitz.


Other journalists for their part tried to pull the conversation back towards the clash on the pitch, with one U.S. reporter asking about comments from Eric Wynalda. The former U.S. men's national team striker told the LA Times on Friday there was 'internal strife' within the team about Berhalter not giving Gio Reyna playing time.


Berhalter didn't exactly deny those claims - just said "it's not what I represent":

By the end of the conference it was clear Berhalter had grown tired of the questioning, responding to a query on strict U.S. visa laws for Iranian citizens with: 'I don't know enough about politics, I'm a soccer coach.

'I'm not well versed on international politics so I can't comment on that.'


All of this ahead of a critical match - in which Iran only needs a tie to advance as long as Wales does not upset England.


For the U.S., it's win and you're in to the final 16.... and hopefully don't have to deal with reporters like this again.


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