US: Holding possible soccer match with Iran shows Washington’s interests for direct talks

TEHRAN (ISNA)- A reportedly planned soccer match between the United States and Iran drew support from the US government, with an official saying the contest would be in line with Washington’s willingness to negotiate directly with Tehran.

“We’ve always said we were open to direct negotiations and talks with the Iranians, so where better place than the soccer field?” US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a briefing in Washington.

Harf’s comments follow reports last week citing Iranian Football Federation President Ali Kafashian as saying that the US Soccer Federation is interested in including Iran in a four-team tournament next year in the United States in preparation for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

While she expressed support for such a match, Harf said Monday that she had not seen the reports.

US Soccer Federation spokesman Neil Buethe did not confirm whether the Americans had been in talks with Iranian soccer officials about a possible match.

But he said the US soccer officials are “reaching out to all federations that have qualified for the World Cup” and have been “actively talking to numerous federations” that have qualified for the tournament about playing in the United States “in late May and early June.”

“We work closely with the State Department to assist with the logistics for any country that we invite to play games in the States,” Buethe said. “The State Department is aware that we have reached out to numerous countries about the possibility of coming to the US prior to the World Cup,” RiaNovosti quoted Buethe as saying.

The US and Iranian sides, both of which have qualified for the World Cup, have only met twice on the soccer field.

Iran downed the Americans 2-1 in the 1998 World Cup in France, while the teams played to a 1-1 draw in a friendly two years later in Pasadena, California.



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