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Friday, 14 January, 2000, 17:22 GMT
Beer adverts spark religious row

Football is one of few areas of US-Iranian agreement


The United States Soccer Federation has refused to remove advertisements for alcoholic drinks at a stadium where the US team will play the Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday.

The organisers said the complaint had not come from Iranian officials, but from what they called an "Iranian extremist group", though they did not say where it was based.

The ads are for the America's best-selling beer Budweiser, a sponsor of the USSF which advertises heavily at sporting arenas and on match programmes.


Will Iran be able to celebrate again?
The Chicago-based federation said it had "tremendous respect for Muslim tradition" but would not be banning Budweiser billboards from the game.

"We understand that abstinence is an Islamic tradition," a USSF statement said. "However, because the game is being played in the US - a country that sanctions the responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages - Budweiser will remain one of several event sponsors."

Budweiser is one of eight corporations which sponsor football in the US and the USSF said their support was what enabled it to field competitive national teams in international football competitions.

Playing politics

Millions of people in Iran and throughout the Muslim world are expected to watch the game, which will be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.


A game like this will be followed with immense global interest
Sunday's friendly game is a repeat of the US-Iranian tie in Lyon during the 1998 World Cup.

Iran's 2-1 win, which knocked the "Great Satan" out of the World Cup, instantly gained legendary status in the troubled history of relations between the US and post-revolutionary Iran.

In an attempt to enhance the cordial atmosphere surrounding this game, US immigration relaxed procedures normally imposed on visiting Iranians. Players and coaches were not taken for fingerprinting on arrival in the country.

Iranian players responded to the controversy by saying they do not wish to allow politics to upset their game

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See also:
21 Jun 98 |  Football
Iran win puts US out
21 Jun 98 |  Middle East
'Great Satan' defeated 2-1
18 Jun 98 |  Middle East
US-Iranian ties: chronology

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