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Football Unites: US Player Comforts Iran Opponents at World Cup

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USA full-back Antonee Robinson Credit: Video screenshot/Twitter/ Karim Sadjadpour

The animosity between Iran and the US was not reflected on the pitch of the World Cup game on Tuesday between the national teams who fought hard to advance to the knockout stage of the completion.

After the Americans sealed a tense 1-0 victory, the USA full-back Antonee Robinson took time to comfort Iranian players, as they took in their exit from the tournament.

The Fulham player embraced fellow defender Ramin Rezaeian, who was in tears and spent time with Abolfazl Jalali. Jalali had slumped to the turf at the final whistle.

Images and footage of Robinson and the Iran players quickly went viral on social media, where he won praise for his empathy.

Iran players under pressure at the World Cup before the US game

Iran’s players had been under huge pressure at the World Cup due to issues off the pitch. In their first match of the tournament against England they failed to sing the national anthem in an apparent show of support for anti-regime protests in Iran, which began after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September.

Conservative figures in the country have warned the players they may face consequences for their actions when they return home, and the players sang the anthem—albeit half-heartedly—before their games against Wales and the US.

Some fans in Iran celebrated the team’s World Cup exit, as they believed the government would use any success as a propaganda tool.

According to a human rights group, Iranian authorities shot and killed a man celebrating the country’s elimination from the 2022 World Cup.

The Oslo-based Iran Human Rights said 27-year-old Mehran Samak was one of many citizens celebrating the loss of Iran—the national team symbolizes the regime to many Iranians—across the country after the United States claimed a one-nil victory in Qatar.

“He was shot in the head by state forces when he went out to celebrate the Islamic Republic’s loss…in Bandar Anzali,” the organization said on Twitter.

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