Iran’s World Cup Presence Is One of Protest and Polarization

Published by
Sports Illustrated

By Greg Bishop As tensions flare at home, there are factions who don’t think Iran should be at the World Cup at all, but Team Melli is there, and its stance is being projected to a global audience. DOHA, Qatar — When Iran first qualified for the World Cup almost half a century ago, Team Melli was led by a dogged defender from Tehran. Consider Andranik Eskandarian the original Tenacious D. Through speed, work and sheer will, Eskandarian shadowed the best attacking stars of his era, shutting down everyone from Diego Maradona to Pelé to George Best. Eskandarian still recalls one game against Joha…

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