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World Cup’s 101 Most Memorable Moments: Iran’s gesture of peace

By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer

Editor’s note: Each day between now and the kickoff of the first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 20, we’ll unveil a different memory from World Cup history. The countdown from 101 continues with Iran’s gesture of peace to the United States men’s national team.

One of the most highly anticipated matches in the first round at France ‘98 had little to do with the game itself.

The USA and Iran had long been political adversaries at that point; when they were drawn together in Group F, the countdown to the encounter in Lyon immediately began.

Any suggestion that the tension between the two governments would spill over onto the field was squashed before the whistle blew. In a display of peace between the players, Team Melli handed each member of the U.S. lineup a bouquet of white flowers. Moments later, both teams posed together for a picture, linking arms and smiling broadly as photographers snapped away. 

It was beautiful gesture, one that is still appreciated by the American players to this day. In the years since, it has become the lasting memory from that match, more than the 2-1 loss that eliminated the U.S. from contention for the knockout rounds.

Iran’s peaceful gesture

Iran gifted the U.S. men’s national team bouquets at France ’98.

One of the leading soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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