Playing with ‘the Great Satan’: the football diplomacy behind the 1998 and 2000 Iran–USA matches

Or Hareuveny, Yehuda Blanga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examines relations between Iran and the United States as reflected in the historic athletic encounter between the two in the 1998 World Cup games. It describes how each party viewed the game and the opportunities it offered: did it indeed offer a chance at thawing the relations between Tehran and Washington, as the Americans thought? Or did the match serve as an arena of ‘mimic warfare’, as it was perceived by many Iranians, who saw in it an opportunity to avenge themselves on America and demonstrate their superiority? The second part of the article will discuss the effect which the football match of 1998, and even more so that of 2000, had on the Iranian American community in the United States. It will also examine American attempts to leverage these two encounters to create more athletic meets between the two countries. We begin with a background survey of relations between the two countries.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies
Issue number5
Early online date14 Nov 2022
StateE-pub ahead of print - 14 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Football and Society
  • Football in Iran
  • Iranian Sport Culture
  • Sport diplomacy
  • US–Iran foreign relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Playing with ‘the Great Satan’: the football diplomacy behind the 1998 and 2000 Iran–USA matches'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this