Iranian Christian Poetry based on the Gospels of John and Matthew
Happy Easter, Happy Resurection Day, Jesus' Empty Tomb is the main Principle of Our Belief as Followers of Jesus Christ, He has Risen, He is Alive and overcame Death so We may Have Ethernal Life, He died for our Sins on the Cross and after 3 days rose from Death, His Empty Tomb is the Sign of Our Hope & Victory

June 1998, Week 4

FarsiNet FarsiNews

Iranian-Americans Urge Better Ties June 30
Iran Ready to Improve Ties with EU June 29
Thousands Greet Iranian Soccer Team June 28
Iranian President to Visit U.N June 28
Conservative cleric says U.S.-Iran talks possible June 28
Iran Ready to Improve Ties with EU June 27
Iran Exits World Cup With Smile June 27
Property-Losers in Iran Lose Appeal June 26
Sore About a Friendly Match June 25
Germany 2, Iran 0 June 25
Clinton Vetoes Iran Sanctions Bill June 24
U.S. Players Express Discontent June 24
Clinton to Veto Iran Sanctions Bill June 23
Iranian Players Get $7,000 Bonuses June 23
Iranian Soccer Gets Boost June 23
Rafsanjani casts doubt on U.S. overture June 23
U.S. Fades Out of World's View June 22
Desperation Makes for a No-Win Situation June 22
Iranian Minister Fired, Re-Hired June 22
Iran Celebrates World Cup Win June 22
Opinions Aired During US-Iran Match June 22
Iran 2, United States 1 June 21


Iranian-Americans Urge Better Ties
By Josef Federman
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- For the umpteenth time, Iran was under fire in Congress.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was leading the calls on this occasion, urging tighter background checks for students entering the United States from Iran and other hostile countries. Her concern: American universities could potentially help terrorist-supporting countries.

Feinstein's criticism of Iran was nothing new in Washington, but the response she received was. Soon after her February testimony, she was contacted by a group of Iranian-Americans objecting to her comments.

Led by a savvy new generation and encouraged by the election of a moderate president in Iran, Iranian-Americans increasingly are urging the United States to make peace with their former homeland.

``We were severely insulted,'' said Dr. Kamyar Kalantar, a San Francisco physician who says there has never been a terrorism case in the United States involving an Iranian student or immigrant.

Large numbers of Iranians began coming to the United States during the 1979 Islamic Revolution that drove the shah from power.

But with U.S.-Iranian animosities boiling -- Iranians held Americans hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Washington accused Iran of supporting terrorists, and Iranian leaders tarred the United States as the decadent ``great Satan'' -- few Iranians got involved in politics here. Until now.

``To take political action is kind of a new frontier. I'm (just) worried we're too late,'' said Shahriar Afshar, president of the Iranian Trade Association, a group working to end U.S. sanctions on Iran.

In addition to lobbying members of Congress, Iranian-Americans are writing newspaper columns and cooperating with other interest groups to pursue their cause. With about 1 million ethnic Iranians living in America, they also are considering endorsing candidates.

Amir Zamaninia, a spokesman for Iran's U.N. mission, said his government has no ties with Iranian-American groups. He declined comment on their growing range of activities.

Iranian-American activists interviewed for this story said they have no ties to any political faction in Iran. But they clearly support Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's efforts to improve ties with the United States, despite hard-line opposition in his country.

``It's a new era in Iran. Sure Khatami's got a difficult time. Now we want to help him,'' Afshar said.

More than half the Iranians living in the United States are in California, with large communities in New York, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Most have kept a low profile. Some were hindered by language or cultural barriers. Others feared retribution over Iran's alleged ties to terrorism and the hostage crisis.

``Being an Iranian in the U.S. during the 1980s was not an easy time,'' Afshar said. ``We were from a country that was almost publicly acceptable to hate.''

That appears to be changing with the generation of Iranian-Americans who grew up in the United States.

``These children are very interested in rediscovering their roots. They also have a sense on how things are done in the U.S. in a way their parents did not,'' said Gary Sick, a presidential adviser during the Iranian revolution.

Some U.S. corporations with interests in Iran are joining the lobbying effort.

The San Diego-based Iranian Trade Association has attracted more than 20 corporate sponsors to its campaign against sanctions, said Afshar, a 30-year-old former worker in that city's trade office. Among his sponsors is Conoco, which had a $1 billion oil field project in Iran blocked by the U.S. government in 1995.

Gary Marfin, Conoco's manager for government affairs, said the company's alliance with Iranian-Americans is part of its general opposition to economic sanctions.

``About the only impact sanctions do have is lost business and lost job opportunities in the U.S.,'' Marfin said.

Another group, Iranians for International Cooperation, seeks to promote dialogue and cultural exchanges as well as economic ties between Iran and the United States.

Trita Parsi, a graduate student who leads the group from Sweden, said opening Iran to the West will ultimately help average people in impoverished Iran. He also noted that most exiles still have relatives in Iran.

Hundreds of Iranian-Americans have contacted members of Congress since Khatami's election, said Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio, a leading supporter of improving relations with Iran.

``About 90 percent of these people ask us to please think about communication'' with Iran, he said.

Iran Ready to Improve Ties with EU
TEHRAN - XINHUA - Iran has announced its readiness to improve relations and enhance cooperation with European countries, calling for dialog on the basis of equality and mutual benefits.

The government of President Mohammad Khatami is steadfast in improving and expanding relations and cooperation with the member states of the European Union (EU), Morteza Sarmadi, Iranian deputy foreign minister for Euro-American affairs, said in an interview with Iran Daily published on Saturday.

Sarmadi said that the future dialog between the EU and Iran "should be based on equality, mutual benefits in order to promote the level of cooperation" between the two sides, adding that the reason for the failure of the EU "critical dialog" with Iran is the "incorrect views" of the EU and its intention to dictate Iran to change its policies.

He said that the future dialog should focus on removing hurdles for economic cooperation, paving the way for dialog among civilizations and exchanging views on important international and regional issues.

The deputy foreign minister noted that about 20 different delegations from the EU countries, such as France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Austria, have visited Iran and held talks with Iranian officials to improve bilateral relations during the past few months.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi will arrive here next Tuesday for a three-day official visit aimed at enhancing cooperation with Iran in political, economical and cultural fields, according to Sarmadi.

Prodi's visit is the first by a western head of government to Iran since the Islamic revolution which toppled former Iranian Shah regime in 1979.

The visit is believed to be a new step in pushing forward the EU-Iran relations after the end of the EU-Iran diplomatic row last November over a Berlin court rule which accused Iran of supporting terrorism.

In March, the EU announced to resume high-level contacts and talks with Iran. Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini visited Tehran days after the EU announcement.

Thousands Greet Iranian Soccer Team
By Afshin Valinejad
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Blowing trumpets and waving flags, thousands of jubilant Iranians welcomed their World Cup team home Sunday, proud that it was the one to knock the United States out of the soccer tournament.

That joy, however, was tempered by some disappointment over Iran's own failure to advance past the first round.

Some Iranians waited for hours outside Tehran's Mehrabad Airport, where the team arrived just before dawn. Fans waved the red, white and green Iranian flag and wore the team's jersey or T-shirts with the picture of Ali Daei, Iran's star player.

Others blew plastic trumpets in a noisy reception.

``Our boys played very well,'' coach Jalal Talebi said. ``We are pleased to see our people receiving the team so warmly.''

Iran's World Cup trip ended when it lost 2-0 Thursday to a powerful German team. But the defeat came just four days after a win that electrified the nation -- Iran's 2-1 victory over the United States, a game charged with political significance born of the hostility between Washington and Tehran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The win, Iran's first in World Cup action, started an all-night party in Tehran. Millions of Iranians poured into the streets chanting ``Iran! Iran!,'' honking cars paraded through the capital and women distributed celebratory sweets.

``Our performance was good, especially beating the United States. That was great. Thank God for that,'' defender Mehdi Pashazadeh said at the airport.

Dozens of cars carrying flags followed the soccer team's bus as it made its way into the city Sunday. Some boys danced in the back of pickup trucks in scenes reminiscent of last week's celebration.

Iranian television and radio broadcast the arrival live.

``I hope our people are satisfied with us,'' said Mehdi Mahdavikia, a midfielder who scored the team's second goal against the United States. ``We did our best.''

Iranian President to Visit U.N
By Thomas W. Lippman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Iranian President Mohammed Khatemi plans to travel to New York in September to address the U.N. General Assembly, the first such visit by an Iranian head of state since the 1979 revolution.

President Clinton is scheduled to speak before the U.N. body on the same day, but there are no plans for the two to meet, senior U.S. officials said. A direct encounter is a step neither leader is yet prepared to take in their careful minuet of rapprochement, U.S. officials and independent analysts said.

Just over a week ago, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright announced a shift in U.S. policy toward Iran by offering a "road map" to normal relations. With that offer on the table, senior officials said, the next move is up to Iran. There is little more the United States can do, they said, so long as Iran refuses to participate in official, government-to-government negotiations.

That Khatemi is coming to New York, however, does not necessarily mean that his agenda is conciliatory. Many foreign leaders antipathetic to the United States, including Cuba's Fidel Castro, have used the United Nations General Assembly as a forum for their complaints against Washington.

The public responses of Iranian officials to Albright's June 17 remarks have been cool, but Khatemi himself -- locked in a power struggle with a faction militantly hostile to the United States -- has not been heard from. In a televised speech congratulating Iran's national soccer team on its victory in a World Cup match, he never mentioned the country the Iranians beat: the United States.

Under Iran's constitution, the president is not the most powerful figure. He is subordinate to the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who commands the armed forces. Khamenei was selected by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and is an heir of Khomeini's anti-American outlook. Nevertheless, senior U.S. officials said, Clinton, Albright and other senior officials are convinced that Iran under Khatemi is not the same as it was before his surprise election 13 months ago. Albright's speech was tailored to encourage him to remain on what is seen here as a relatively constructive path.

The speech followed months of discussion, within the administration and with outside experts, about the significance of Khatemi's election and of his government's improved relations with Iran's neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.

Clinton made clear that he perceived an opportunity in Khatemi's wide margin of victory over the candidate favored by the radicals. In addition, there is now room for flexibility in the U.S. position because two men who had been strongly influential in shaping a U.S. policy of hostility to Iran -- the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and former secretary of state Warren Christopher -- are gone from the scene.

"Rabin spoke of Iran almost everyday as an existential threat to Israel," a senior administration official said. The current Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, "has not spoken in those terms. It doesn't mean he's not concerned about Iran's weapons of mass destruction, but he, like us, sees some evidence that there is a potential strategic change going on inside Iran."

An Israeli diplomat confirmed that assessment.

In December, U.S. officials heard encouraging reports from Saudi Arabia and from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat about the conference of Islamic nations in Tehran. The conference issued a communique condemning terrorism. The Saudis said they had been well received. And Arafat said the Iranians welcomed him as the leader of the Palestinian people, rather than denouncing him, as previously, for his willingness to make peace with Israel.

A few weeks after the Jan. 7 CNN interview in which Khatemi expressed regret for the radicals' 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy and its diplomats and proposed an increase in cultural and academic exchanges with the United States, Albright discussed the U.S. response over dinner with academic and think-tank specialists.

"She was particularly interested in how a U.S. initiative in one direction or another would help Khatemi or hurt Khatemi," one participant said.

While no formal interagency review of Iran policy was held, a senior official said, "It was clear for all to see that the developments in Iran were very interesting" and required a shift in the U.S. posture.

Beginning late last winter, the tone of the administration's public commentary on Iran began to change. While continuing to stress that Iran is a sponsor of terrorism and is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons and the missiles on which to deliver them, senior officials also began commenting on positive developments, such as Iran's cooperation with the United States in a quest for peace in Afghanistan.

Officials also began to modify the policy of "dual containment," the policy of keeping both Iran and Iraq bottled up through economic and political pressure, including sanctions. They began differentiating between Iraq, where nothing positive from a U.S. viewpoint was happening, and Iran, where they cited some encouraging signs. In testimony about Iran before a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on May 12, Martin Indyk, the assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, never used the word "containment."

Indyk held out the prospect of "better relations," but only after reciting a long list of complaints about Iran, including "human rights abuses, such as severe restrictions on freedom of religion, and the use of brutal and inhuman punishments, such as stoning and the use of the death penalty for nonviolent offenses."

None of that language appeared in Albright's olive-branch speech just five weeks later, in which she portrayed the Iranian glass as half full rather than half empty. The difference, senior officials said, was that between Indyk's testimony and Albright's speech, Clinton decided not to impose sanctions on three major foreign oil firms that have agreed to develop a major Iranian natural gas field.

Clinton did that, officials said, as part of an agreement with the European Union, not as a gesture to Iran. But once he did it, it was no longer necessary to portray Iran in mostly negative terms as a justification for possible sanctions.

With the sanctions issue out of the way, Albright was free to do what she and her State Department aides wanted to do, which was accelerate the effort to reach out to Khatemi, a senior official said.

"We got tired of hearing that we weren't serious, that we weren't seizing the opportunity," the official said, "or conversely that we were doing too much, that a second revolution was under way [in Iran] and we should just let it happen."

Albright's speech was an effort to lay out the conditions through which Iran could rebuild good relations with the United States, and an expression of hope for a positive response.

After the speech, Mobil Corp., the Fairfax-based oil company, which wants to do business in and with Iran, called on the president to grant its applications to conduct some transactions there to "engage Iran with the international community without undermining U.S. foreign policy goals." Administration officials, however, said no decision is imminent on the Mobil applications.

Conservative cleric says U.S.-Iran talks possible
TEHRAN, (Reuters) - A senior conservative cleric said on Friday that talks between Iran and the United States, estranged for 19 years, were possible provided Washington respected the principles of the Islamic Revolution.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati used the weekly Friday prayers at Tehran University to suggest that grounds for compromise with the country long denounced as the "Great Satan" may in fact exist.

"In the future, either we step back from our stance...or they abandon their anti-Islamic attitude, leave us alone and let us preserve our religion. In that case we could talk to each other," said Jannati, secretary of the authoritative Guardian Council and a leading conservative.

"Otherwise there could be no possibility of compromise." His comments mark the first substantive response to a major U.S. diplomatic initiative, tied to the World Cup clash between the two rivals earlier this week. They also display a potential softening of the conservative position long opposed to U.S. contacts.

"The problem between America and us is only Islam. We do not have any other problem," Jannati said.

Iran won a 2-1 soccer thriller against the United States in Lyon, France, touching off an outpouring of public joy rarely seen in the Islamic Republic.

But the crowd's enthusiasm -- for the home side and for the Americans -- has so far failed to spill over into the Iranian diplomatic arena.

No formal response has been issued either by President Mohammad Khatami or by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, something Western analysts here ascribe to the political volatility of relations with Iran's former patron.

"No one wants to be seen as taking the lead," said one Western diplomatic analyst. "It is simply too hot an issue."

Rather, say analysts, a consensus must first be reached within Iran's fractious leadership, something that could take time. Washington has said it does not expect a reaction "overnight."

In a World Cup message taped before the soccer match, President Bill Clinton said he sought "genuine reconciliation" with Iran based on mutual respect.

Earlier U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright offered to explore new confidence building steps, with the ultimate aim of re-establishing normal relations, shattered by the 1979 hostage crisis.

But she ruled out any apology for U.S. support for the Shah, deposed in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Referring to the Iranian team's victory, Jannati said: "People in many Asian countries held celebrations, which indicates a sense of hatred toward America everywhere."

Washington must abandon the double standard whereby it gives Israel a free hand in the Middle East but applies a different standard to Iran, he said.

"They repeat all their previous accusations against us... They try to sabotage the Iran-Europe oil and gas pipelines, they call us terrorists, they accuse us of trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction, they have caused the oil price to drop so low that even its extraction may prove uneconomic."

Clinton said in his message that he expected Iran to "move away from support of terrorism and the distribution of dangerous weapons, and opposition to the (Middle East) peace process."

But he said Iran was changing for the better, a reference to moderate President Khatami's public campaign for a "civil society" within the Islamic system. "We appreciate the comments made by the president several months ago and we are exploring what the future might hold," Clinton said.

In January, Khatami proposed dialogue between the Iranian and American peoples but stopped short of the government-to-government contacts that Washington has demanded.

Khatami's conservative rivals, who control key levers of power including the legislature and the judiciary, have repeatedly warned against any attempt at re-establishing ties with the United States.

Washington broke relations with Iran after radical students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 and kept 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Iran Ready to Improve Ties with EU
TEHRAN - XINHUA - Iran has announced its readiness to improve relations and enhance cooperation with European countries, calling for dialog on the basis of equality and mutual benefits.

The government of President Mohammad Khatami is steadfast in improving and expanding relations and cooperation with the member states of the European Union (EU), Morteza Sarmadi, Iranian deputy foreign minister for Euro-American affairs, said in an interview with Iran Daily published on Saturday.

Sarmadi said that the future dialog between the EU and Iran "should be based on equality, mutual benefits in order to promote the level of cooperation" between the two sides, adding that the reason for the failure of the EU "critical dialog" with Iran is the "incorrect views" of the EU and its intention to dictate Iran to change its policies.

He said that the future dialog should focus on removing hurdles for economic cooperation, paving the way for dialog among civilizations and exchanging views on important international and regional issues.

The deputy foreign minister noted that about 20 different delegations from the EU countries, such as France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Austria, have visited Iran and held talks with Iranian officials to improve bilateral relations during the past few months.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi will arrive here next Tuesday for a three-day official visit aimed at enhancing cooperation with Iran in political, economical and cultural fields, according to Sarmadi.

Prodi's visit is the first by a western head of government to Iran since the Islamic revolution which toppled former Iranian Shah regime in 1979.

The visit is believed to be a new step in pushing forward the EU-Iran relations after the end of the EU-Iran diplomatic row last November over a Berlin court rule which accused Iran of supporting terrorism.

In March, the EU announced to resume high-level contacts and talks with Iran. Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini visited Tehran days after the EU announcement.

Iran Exits World Cup With Smile
By Anwar Faruqi
Associated Press Writer
MONTPELLIER, France (AP) -- Iran is going home from its first World Cup in 20 years earlier than hoped, yet hailed as a team of heroes.

The last team to qualify for the 32-nation finals, Iran showed it could take the field against soccer powers without embarrassment.

And it won the game that mattered most back home, a 2-1 victory over the United States that set off wild celebrations in Tehran, where America has been reviled since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

A 1-0 loss to Yugoslavia in the opener was seen as a moral victory in a match where Iran had been expected to crumble. Same for Thursday night's 2-0 defeat by three-time champion Germany, a game that was scoreless at halftime.

``This World Cup was a great experience for us and I hope it did a lot for the future of soccer in our country,'' coach Jalal Talebi said. ``I am pleased with the players and I congratulate them and the Iranian nation.''

Players will receive government-paid bonuses of at least $8,500 apiece, and reports said they could expect other gifts, including expense-paid pilgrimages to Mecca.

When Iran clinched its World Cup berth with a playoff win over Australia last year, millions in Tehran poured into the streets in celebration.

That joy soon turned to fear. Iran was drawn in a tough group with two superior teams and the country's arch political and cultural foe. Many in the soccer-mad nation feared their team could end up being humiliated before billions of fans around the world.

Not even close. After the victory over the United States, Talebi talked realistically about reaching the second round.

``We are going home happy,'' midfielder Ali Reza Mansourian said. ``We did our best, and we know that our people also are happy with us. These games showed us that the difference between Asian soccer and the best teams in the world is not that great. It is a difference we can make up.''

Iran, three-time Asian champions, was the only Asian team to win a first-round game. Talebi said that win, big as it was, took something out of the team.

``After our victory against the United States, players felt that their work was finished, and they didn't have the same motivation (against Germany) as they had against the United States,'' the coach said.

German coach Berti Vogts said beating Iran was not easy.

``I had said before that we have to be careful with Iran, and I was proven right,'' he said. Oliver Bierhoff and Juergen Klinsmann scored on a pair of headers early in the second half to put Germany into Round 2 against Mexico.

Iranian soccer reached its previous height with its only other World Cup appearance in Argentina in 1978. The Islamic revolution a year later and the 1980-88 war with Iraq virtually killed the sport.

Some of the country's best soccer talent left, or abandoned sports altogether in an effort to make a living.

In recent years, however, several Iranian players have made a name on some of the world's best clubs.

Strikers Ali Daei, Karim Bagheri and Khodadad Azizi all play in Germany's Bundesliga, and a fourth player, Alireza Mansourian, says he also has an offer from a German club. Mehdi Mahdavikia, Iran's rising star who got the game-winner against the United States, has an offer from Inter Milan.

More Iranian players are expected to be in demand with European clubs after showing off their talent at the World Cup.

``We did the best with the minimum facilities available to us back home,'' Talebi said.

Property-Losers in Iran Lose Appeal
By Laurie Asseo
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court today refused to force the government to help reimburse a group of U.S. citizens who lost property in Iran during that country's 1979 revolution.

The court, without comment, turned away arguments that because a U.S.-Iran agreement resulted in only partial payment for the losses, the U.S. government should have to make up the rest.

The lawsuit was filed by individuals, companies and two universities that lost property or money after the American Embassy in Tehran was seized and U.S. personnel were taken hostage in November 1979.

In 1990, Iran agreed to pay $105 million to the United States, of which $50 million was set aside to resolve claims by U.S. citizens of less than $250,000 each.

The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, authorized by Congress to resolve those small claims, entered 1,000 awards totaling $86 million in principal and interest. Because that exceeded the $50 million set aside, everyone whose claim was upheld received the full amount of principal and about one-third of the interest awarded.

Among those whose claims were upheld, 20 individuals and corporations and two universities -- the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Pittsburgh -- sued the government in the Court of Federal Claims.

They said the government's decision to settle their claims against Iran without their consent amounted to a taking of their property without compensation, and asked that the government be forced to pay the rest of the interest.

The claims court ruled for the government, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld that decision last December. The government has the authority to settle such claims, the appeals court said, adding that there was no reason to believe the people would have done as well or better on their own.

The appeal acted on today said that when the government settles citizens' claims against another nation, courts should decide whether the citizens got fair payment.

Government lawyers said such settlements are an established international practice that gave the citizens a ``swifter and surer means of recovering on their claims.''

The case is Gurney vs. U.S., 97-1440.

Sore About a Friendly Match
Washington Post
Was Tony Kornheiser's June 23 column ["Satan Has a Devil of a Time," Sports] supposed to be funny or satirical? What was the point? What is "they've only got two kinds of soccer fields in Iran, natural sand and artificial sand" supposed to mean?

He admits that he doesn't "want to sound like a card-carrying jingoist moron, but it's humiliating to be beaten by Iran." He may not be a "moron," but before venting his derogatory ideas, he should remembered that it is better to remain quiet and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubts.

Does the agony of defeat, in a simple, friendly soccer match justify insulting an ethnic minority in a national newspaper? As an Iranian American, I found this article insulting and derogatory.

-- Najmedin Meshkati

Writing that U.S. soccer coach Steve Sampson, "in some countries, could have lost his hands," may garner a few cheap laughs, but it also indicates Tony Kornheiser's ignorance of other cultures and religions -- not to mention soccer.

What a pity this poor baseball fan was "forced to watch one hour and 56 minutes of soccer," a sport the rest of the world considers, in the words of soccer great Pele, "the beautiful game."

I am not an Iranian -- I am an American of South Asian descent and a die-hard fan of the U.S. National Soccer Team as it was in 1994: Tab Ramos, John Harkes, Cobi Jones, et al.

Kornheiser should stick to basketball and baseball and whatever other purely American sports he knows. Soccer is a world sport.

-- Amer Ziauddin

I read with amusement Anne Swardson's description of the World Cup's popularity ["Defeating U.S. Is Only Part of the Challenge," news story, June 21]. As "37 billion television viewers" is roughly six times the current population of the entire planet, it must also be every advertiser's dream!

-- Paul Coelus

Germany 2, Iran 0
By Nesha Starcevic
Associated Press Writer
MONTPELLIER, France (AP) -- Two precision goals highlighted a workmanlike performance as Germany advanced to the second round of the World Cup with Thursday night's 2-0 victory over Iran.

Oliver Bierhoff and Juergen Klinsmann scored early in the second half as Germany won Group F and will face Mexico in the second round Monday, also at Montpellier.

Germany won the group on goal difference ahead of Yugoslavia, which defeated the United States 1-0 in the night's other match. Iran, which scored its first-ever World Cup victory over the United States on Sunday, was eliminated.

Thomas Haessler and Bierhoff, the combination that worked so well when Germany won the European Championship two years ago, connected again to open the scoring in the 50th minute.

Haessler made a perfect right-wing cross to Bierhoff, who left defenders Mohammad Khakpour and Mehdi Pashazadeh bumping into each other as his header bounced high into the net from 8 yards.

The second goal, in the 58th minute, was also a well-crafted piece of soccer. Jorg Heinrich chased down a long pass and one-touched the ball right to Bierhoff, who one-timed his shot off the left post. Klinsmann was there for the easy rebound, putting it in with an acrobatic, diving header.

The game pitted Germany's methodical precision against Iran's swift counterattacks. Iran came out with a defensive strategy, choking the German offense and countering whenever possible.

Iranian goalkeeper Ahmad Abedzadeh didn't have a difficult save in the first half, while counterpart Andreas Koepke had to dive to his right to stop Karim Bagheri's 35-yard drive.

Iran stepped up the attack after falling behind, but Germany had the better scoring chances. Bierhoff was just wide in the 60th and also missed the target with a header in the 86th.

Klinsmann's goal was his eighth in World Cup first-round play. He scored four times in Germany's three opening-round games in the United States four years ago, twice in the 1990 group matches in Italy, and also had one in the Germans' France 98 opening win against the Americans.

Before the game, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel met with French police providing security at the stadium. Kinkel also expressed his government's sympathy for French police officer Daniel Nivel, who was beaten into a coma by German hooligans Sunday after the Germany-Yugoslavia game in Lens.

Clinton Vetoes Iran Sanctions Bill
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Clinton has vetoed legislation that would have automatically imposed sanctions on any foreign governme nt or business that supplied ballistic missile technology to Iran.

The veto late Tuesday of the Iran Missile Proliferation Act came less than a week after Clinton expressed hope for ``a genuine reco nciliation with Iran'' if it complied with international standards of conduct.

The administration already has eased travel to the United States for Iranians and is supporting cultural and academic exchanges.

Under the 1996 Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, the president has the option of imposing sanctions on foreign companies that invest at least $20 million annually in Iran's oil and gas sectors.

The bill he vetoed would have required ``sweeping application of sanctions according to inflexible and indiscriminate criteria,'' C linton said in a statement. Sanctions could be wrongly triggered against individuals and businesses worldwide and would be dispropo rtionate, penalizing minor violations the same as major ones, he said.

But Clinton said he was particularly concerned about the bill's impact on the U.S. effort to work with Russia to stem the flow of t echnology from Russia to Iran's missile program.

In Moscow, the Foreign Ministry applauded Clinton's decision as reflecting an agreement reached at his meeting with President Boris Yeltsin in England last month.

``The Russian leadership is pursuing a firm policy aimed at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their m eans of delivery, including supply of any illegal rocket technologies to Iran,'' the statement said.

Some members of Congress said they would push to override the veto, citing concern over moves by Russia and China to supply Iran wi th missile technology.

``This proliferation cannot and must not be ignored. It is a direct threat to peace in the Middle East,'' said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D -Calif. ``This carefully crafted legislation will strengthen the president's hand in dealing with proliferators.''

House International Relations Chairman Ben Gilman, R-N.Y., asked GOP leaders to immediately schedule an override vote, saying the v eto is ``deeply distressing'' in light of the assistance Iran has gotten from Russia on missile production.

White House press secretary Mike McCurry said earlier that Clinton felt Congress was trying to ``micromanage'' U.S. foreign policy and put ``hopeless shackles on the presidency'' with the legislation.

U.S. Players Express Discontent
By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
NANTES, France, June 23—Dissatisfaction with the strategy and decision-making employed by U.S. Coach Steve Sampson surfaced to day in the U.S. soccer camp. The discontent may erupt after Thursday's World Cup match with Yugoslavia -- the final match for the U .S. team, which lost its chance to advance to the round of 16 with two losses to open the tournament.

Some players plan to voice their displeasure about a variety of Sampson's decisions, which they believe contributed significantly t o the U.S. team's poor showing in this World Cup.

"Everybody's ready to explode," veteran defender Alexi Lalas said today. "You can get ready for it."

Lalas did not play in either of the first two matches.

Sampson apparently shares some of his players' anger. A source said Sampson threatened to send home four players -- Lalas, Eric Wyn alda, Marcelo Balboa and Ernie Stewart -- before the Iran match for attitude problems. The threats, the source said, came through a ssistant coaches. None of those players started in the 2-1 loss to Iran Sunday. Stewart came into the game as a late substitute.

Sampson was not available to comment, according to team spokesman Jim Froslid.

The issues upsetting some players include:

Major lineup and formation changes in the last two months by Sampson, including a momentous shuffling last week before the loss to Iran.

The fielding of a largely inexperienced lineup in the team's 2-0 loss to Germany on June 15.

Sampson's decision last April to leave two-time World Cup veteran John Harkes off the roster, which some players viewed as symbolic of a perceived disregard by Sampson for the achievements of veteran players.

Sampson's criticism of players to reporters.

Pockets of discontent arose after the team's loss to Germany June 15, a defeat that Lalas today called "humiliating and embarrassin g . . . an insulting performance to ourselves and all the players that have come before."

The loss to Iran escalated some players' frustration. Five new players started that match and Sampson brought out a new formation.< p> Some players, though, say the dissension may have begun with Sampson's decisions in April to cut Harkes and install a new formation and a new -- and less experienced -- group of players on the basis of one performance: the team's April 22 3-0 victory over Austri a.

Not all of the players were available for interviews today, an off-day for the team. Some players said they preferred to make publi c their concerns only after Thursday's match.

Lalas, however, spoke about his complaints.

"It's rather naive to think that a team that has gone through so much together can basically be rearranged and be expected to play with any consistency and cohesiveness," Lalas said. "It just doesn't happen, especially in soccer. . . . The reality is, consistenc y comes from playing under a system for an extended period of time and understanding the role you play in that system.

"If this was the master plan, good god, it was pretty masterful. [Sampson's] got a weird definition of a master plan."

Sampson has said changing his approach drastically between the match against Germany, a three-time World Cup champion, and the matc h against Iran, a lesser opponent, was something he had in mind all along.

The U.S. team qualified for the World Cup finals with room to spare last year. The national team posted a highly successful 1995 an d good years in '96 and '97. Throughout, the U.S. team had phenomenal moments, such as the team's defeat of Brazil this February, o ffset by a handful of perplexing low points.

Sampson took over the team as an interim coach in the spring of 1995 but didn't earn a contract to coach the team in the World Cup until last December. The contract expires after the World Cup. U.S. Soccer Federation President Alan Rothenberg said a decision on Sampson's future with the U.S. team will be made sometime in the month following Thursday's match.

"The basic core of guys have been involved for many years; their spirit and personality have been on the field for many years," sai d Lalas, a member of the '94 World Cup team that advanced to the second round. "If you look at it from a soccer standpoint, that's been a team that's won and gotten quality and historic results. I don't know where that team was. . . . I gave up trying to figure [Sampson] out a long time ago."

Said another player who requested anonymity: "The reasons why we didn't play well were not because of this team. It has nothing to do with the ability of the players here. This team lost its chemistry months ago.

"The reason we're upset is we got this guy his job. He talks about trust and sacrifice, and most of the time, we're still talking a bout 'we' and he's talking about 'I,' and he's taking credit for all the things we accomplished as a group in soccer. . . . Everyth ing we worked for, everything we accomplished, is thrown away not because of talent but because he wanted it to be his show."

Asked whether Sampson should be asked back to coach the U.S. team, Lalas said: "It's not a decision any player is going to be invol ved with or should be involved with. We have a lot of work to do to make up the ground we lost with this performance."

Said Tab Ramos, a three-time World Cup veteran who was among the five new starters in the Iran match: "Has he gotten the most out o f the talent we have? That's really the kind of question the people in charge have to answer. Everybody's got a family. I don't wan t to be the one to say this guy should lose his job or this guy should have a job for the next four years.

"I think a lot of people have a lot of things to say once this is over. I think I'll be one of those guys. . . . Now is not a very good time. There's really no need to get into any bigger of a problem than we have now."

Clinton to Veto Iran Sanctions Bill
By Sonya Ross
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Clinton has decided to veto legislation on Iranian sanctions, saying Congress did not wr ite in enough flexibility for him to negotiate as he pursues a new relationship with that country.

Clinton planned to quietly veto the Iran Missile Proliferation Act, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Tuesday. The legislation would automatically impose sanctions on any foreign government or business that supplies ballistic mi ssile technology to Iran.

Currently, under the 1996 Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, the president may impose sanctions on foreign companies that invest at least $20 million annually in Iran's oil and gas sectors.

The veto comes less than a week after Clinton expressed hope for ``a genuine reconciliation with Iran'' if it complie s with international standards of conduct and moves away from its support of terrorism and distribution of dangerous weapons. The Clinton administration already has eased travel to the United States for Iranians and is supporting cult ural and academic exchanges.

Some members of Congress said they would push to override the veto, citing concern over moves by Russia and China to supply Iran with missile technology.

``This proliferation cannot and must not be ignored. It is a direct threat to peace in the Middle East,'' said Rep. N ancy Pelosi, D-Calif. ``This carefully crafted legislation will strengthen the president's hand in dealing with proli ferators.''

McCurry said Clinton feels Congress is trying to ``micromanage'' U.S. foreign policy and put ``hopeless shackles on t he presidency'' with the legislation. He said the president also considers the threshold for issuing sanctions too lo w.

``Essentially, there is no flexibility in the act passed by Congress that allows the president to work through proble ms,'' McCurry said. ``You could conceivably have situations in the future in which the United States government might improperly or incorrectly impose sanctions, which then would cast out on the credibility of all the sanctions regime s that we maintain.''

McCurry said Clinton would continue to work with Russia on U.S. concerns about the proliferation of missile technolog y.

Iranian Players Get $7,000 Bonuses
By Anwar Faruqi
Associated Press Writer
YSSINGEAUX, France (AP) -- Iranian players will receive $7,000 apiece from their government for beating the United States in the Wor ld Cup.

The bonus, announced today by team spokesman Khosrow Valizadeh, was on top of the $1,500 the players each received for a 1-0 loss to heavily favored Yugoslavia in their first World Cup game in 20 years.

With two decades of tension between the two countries, Sunday's game in Lyon was the one all Iranians wanted to win. Millions celebr ated and danced in the streets of Tehran after the 2-1 victory.

The combined $8,500 reward isn't near the $100,000 and a Mercedes Benz that the Saudis got from their oil-rich government four years ago when they qualified for the World Cup. But in Iran, where a good monthly salary amounts to about $200, the reward is a small fo rtune.

Except for Iran's three star strikers who play in the German Bundesliga, nearly all of the other players make a living with jobs or businesses on the side.

The strikers, Ali Daei, Karim Bagheri and Khodadad Azizi, each have contracts of more than $1 million with their German clubs.

Last week, Tehran's Akhbar daily reported that when the players return home, the federation will pick up the tab for a pilgrimage fo r them and their families to the Saudi city of Mecca, home to Islam's holiest site.

Valizadeh said that Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, Iranian vice president for sports affairs, was due to arrive in Yssingeaux, the town in th e French heartland where the Iranians are housed, to congratulate the players.

He said Hashemi-Taba would probably announce more rewards for the team.

Iranian Soccer Gets Boost
By Anwar Faruqi
Associated Press Writer
YSSINGEAUX, France (AP) -- Re-emerging from the turmoil of revolution and war, Iranian soccer is getting a much-needed boost with th e national team's first World Cup appearance in 20 years. Already, it's been a rousing success, with a close loss to powerful Yugosl avia and the momentous victory over the United States.

The three-time Asian champions' stunning 2-1 victory Sunday over the United States, a political foe for 20 years, was almost as good as winning the Cup itself for many Iranians.

``It will go down in history that Iran won this game at the World Cup. This will be a great boost for Iranian soccer, and for lovers of soccer in Iran,'' said coach Jalal Talebi, himself a long-time U.S. resident.

Soccer is a passion in Iran. When it clinched the last of 32 World Cup berths by edging Australia in an away game, millions danced a nd celebrated in the streets of Tehran. Those scenes were repeated after Sunday's win against the United States -- a country branded ``The Great Satan'' by hard-line Muslim leaders.

With few soccer fields and other sports facilities available, kids learn the game and hone their skills in the streets and alleys ar ound the country. On the weekend when traffic is thin, kids block off side roads for rousing games, usually played with a cheap plas tic ball.

``That's how nearly all of our players learned their soccer,'' said Amir Yazdjerdi, a writer for the largest sports daily in Tehran.

With more than half the population of 60 million under 16, encouraging sports is important for the Iranian government.

In recent years, more and more Iranian players have made a name on some of the world's best clubs.

Strikers Ali Daei, Karim Bagheri and Khodadad Azizi all play in Germany's Bundesliga, and a fourth player, Alireza Mansourian, says he also has an offer from a German club.

Mehdi Mahdavikia, Iran's rising star -- especially after scoring the second goal against the United States -- has an offer from Ital y's Inter Milan.

With 19 goals, Bagheri was the top overall scorer in Iran's qualifying run.

``Coming to the World Cup is a great boost for Iranian soccer,'' said Yazdjerdi. ``It's going to make kids even more passionate abou t the sport, and more Daeis, Azizis and Mahdivikia's are going to emerge.''

During the turmoil following Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed shah, and the 1980-88 war with Iraq, Iranian soccer virtually died.

It was at its peak just before the revolution, when Iran played at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, its first appearance. It was bea ten 3-0 by the Netherlands and 4-1 by Peru, but managed an impressive 0-0 draw against Scotland.

The Iranian Football Federation was founded in 1920, and became an affiliate of FIFA in 1945.

The golden age of Iranian soccer began in the late 1960s. Iran clinched its first Asian title in 1968, and won twice more in 1972 an d 1976.

Some of the country's best soccer talent left during the war, or left sports to try to make a living.

Talebi, the Iranian coach, was forced to leave in 1983 because he wanted a job in soccer and there was none in Iran. He left for the United Arab Emirates, and later moved to the United States.

Now, he is a hero in Iran.

Rafsanjani casts doubt on U.S. overture
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, still an influential figure in Iran, cast doubt on a U.S. effort to boost ties with the Islamic Republic, the official news agency IRNA said on Monday.

"Pointing to the desire expressed by the U.S. and the West to have ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Rafsanjani questioned the sincerity of Washington," IRNA said.

Rafsanjani, president from 1989 to 1997 and now head of the authoritative Expediency Council, spoke to a group of soldiers in Iran's traditionally conservative Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on Sunday.

Washington broke ties with Tehran in 1980, months after radical students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 hostages for 444 days.

"Rafsanjani...stated that the endurance and strength of the Islamic revolution and government have humbled the U.S. after 20 years of enmity towards the Iranian nation," IRNA said.

Last week the United States sent a public olive branch to Iran, calling for dialogue. President Bill Clinton said he hoped for "a genuine reconciliation."

A much-publicised World Cup soccer showdown on Sunday between Iran and the United States engendered hopes that "soccer diplomacy" could bring the two countries closer. Iran won 2-1.

Relations have warmed slightly since the election of moderate President Mohammad Khatami last year, who has called for "cracks in the wall of mistrust" between the two estranged nations.

President Khatami has yet to publicly respond to Washington's overture.

Rafsanjani warned against "the deeply rooted hatred by the enemies toward Islam, Shi'ism and the Islamic revolution," but he made no specific reference to the United States in that part of his talk.

He listed a series of concerns, including Israeli attempts to strengthen its grip on Jerusalem, the massacre of Moslems in Kosovo, the airing of an unflattering movie about Iran on French television, and arms support for Israel as examples of this "hatred."

U.S. Fades Out of World's View
By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
LYON, France:Sweat streaming down his neck, U.S. forward Brian McBride stared into the spotlit night as he trotte d over the Stade Gerland turf. Near the Iranian goal, he crossed himself with a firm hand and pressed his palms t ogether near his heart.

McBride's gesture, in the waning minutes of tonight's long-awaited World Cup match against Iran, was not intended to be a religious statement. The brief prayer was considered an act of necessity.

The United States needed more help than it found on the field in its 2-1 loss to Iran, a crushing defeat because of the late-developing tournament implications -- not the political ones. Germany's 2-2 tie with Yugoslavia earli er in the day meant the loser of this match could not advance to the second round.

When time expired, unleashing whistles and celebrations from the mostly Iranian supporters in the crowd of 44,000 , U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna bent at the waist and, after removing his shin guards, hung down with his arms ex tended, like a towel draped over a chair. After a minute, he dropped dismally to the grass.

While his teammates offered handshakes and exchanged jerseys with Iranian players in the spirit of sportsmanship, Reyna looked over at them and headed to the U.S. bench. There, he sat down and covered his face with his hands.< p> "It wasn't disrespect or anything," Reyna said later. "I was just so disappointed and so sad."

For the United States, its last first-round match -- Thursday against Yugoslavia in Nantes -- will be a battle fo r nothing but pride. That's a strange thing considering the U.S. team overpowered the Iranians in every aspect to night -- except in goals scored.

"Technically, they were over us," Iranian Coach Jalal Talebi said. "They dominated the game most of the time. . . . We were so excited and of course there was a lot of pressure on the shoulders of our players. It was a little bit difficult to get our nerve and play as serious as we can."

U.S. Coach Steve Sampson unveiled five new starters in a new two-forward formation. The changes produced about ev erything intended except the victory. Reyna, McBride and David Regis each slammed breathtaking shots off the post s, and the United States produced more than a dozen chances against a disorganized Iranian team.

McBride's header in the 88th minute finally broke the plane of the goal.

"It's like the post had a magnet on it and the ball was magnetized," McBride said. "Everybody was pushing and pus hing, we just couldn't get that last goal."

Despite the quality of the U.S. team's performance, the likelihood of Sampson continuing as national team coach a fter the World Cup diminished somewhat. Though Sampson's team fought from beginning to end, the bottom line is th is: The United States was expected to defeat Iran, which was playing in its first World Cup finals in 20 years.

If the multitude of changes Sampson made tonight suggested panic, Sampson insisted after the match that it wasn't so. He said he did not abandon the approach employed in the team's 2-0 loss to Germany last Monday; rather, he e xplained, he brought out an appropriate strategy.

In this match, he started a more experienced and offensive-minded lineup that included World Cup veterans Roy Weg erle, Joe-Max Moore and Tab Ramos, as well as relative youngsters Frankie Hejduk and McBride. Benched were Mike B urns, Eric Wynalda, Ernie Stewart, Chad Deering and Brian Maisonneuve. Sampson explained the overhaul by saying, "Iran is Iran and Germany is Germany. We played tactically the way we needed to play against Germany. . . . I cou ldn't have done anything better tonight."

As Sampson spoke, a continuous drumbeat and chanting from Iranian fans resonated in the background.

Clearly angry about his absence from the lineup, Wynalda declined interviews except with one television station a nd slammed a door as he left the interview room. Sampson said he bypassed the U.S. national team's all-time leadi ng goal-scorer with his final substitution -- calling on midfielder Maisonneuve in the 82nd minute instead of Wyn alda -- because Maisonneuve could hold the ball and shoot for distance.

Iran's first goal, on a header by Hamid Estili in the 40th minute, resulted from a defensive breakdown, due partl y to the fact the United States had Iran's best trio of players covered. The less-regarded Estili, however, got f ree. The second goal, in the 84th minute by Mehdi Mahdavikia, came on a breakaway with the United States pushing to score the tying goal.

The United States so dominated the first half that the players looked as if they had been punched in the stomach after Estili's goal. But after halftime, they seemed to have recovered and played at a frenzied pace late in the match.

"It was weird," McBride said. "They just kept dropping back . . . We knew anything could happen. We knew it would be up for grabs."

It was up for grabs, but the U.S. team left the field with little more than a few Iranian players' jerseys and th e roses presented by their opponents before the match.

"It just seemed like it wasn't to be," Wegerle said. "I really thought we would put in a better showing than we d id, but that's what the World Cup is all about. It's about disappointment and victory."

Desperation Makes for a No-Win Situation
By William Gildea
Washington Post
LYON, France:Every sign in the universal language of World Cup soccer was there to be read: Sunday night was goin g to be an extremely difficult night for the United States. Forget, if possible, the political overtones wrought by a game against Iran. The Americans had backed themselves into a corner so tight they could hardly turn around without hearing the hard truth -- that their whole World Cup was to be boiled into one sizzling night of soccer. They needed a victory desperately. A tie would keep them limping along. A defeat would mean the end.

The signs pointed to trouble. The Americans had played poorly in their opening game against Germany. Iran had pla yed well in a 1-0 defeat in its opener against Yugoslavia. When Yugoslavia managed to tie powerful Germany earlie r Sunday, Iran's first game looked even better. The Iranian players waited out the longest day of the year at the ir hotel in the nearby town of Bron. They were relaxed, mingling with their fans, giving interviews. The pressure couldn't get much heavier on a team than it was on the Americans. They never dreamed the World Cup could weigh s o much.

They knew that ABC-TV was beaming the game and that their American viewing audience -- never mind the rest of the planet -- probably would never be as large for a long, long time. It seemed that playing the game would be a rel ief -- that is, until they played it. That's when the signs really turned ominous.

The Americans dominated the first half. These were different Americans than those who lost 2-0 to Germany; there were five new starters, and no one looked timid as against Germany. They kept the ball in Iran's half of the fiel d almost exclusively. But here came another sign -- Brian McBride, one of the new starters, headed the ball only to have it bounce off the crossbar.

If that wasn't enough, Claudio Reyna, a staunch performer for two games, took a shot that hit the right post. The fate of the Americans was as obvious as Mount Rushmore. They outplayed Iran for all but a couple of minutes in t he first 45, and where were they? Looking up at a mountain that seemed far too high to scale. Iran scored on one of its few chances, the result of a long-striding rush up the right sideline, a short drop pass, a return pass to the right corner, a cross to the center of the field, the ball hitting directly on the head of Hamid Estili and into the net. The Americans couldn't win when they were bad, against Germany, and now they couldn't win when they were good.

It was heartbreaking for American fans. It was not their night, it was not their World Cup. Yet the atmosphere wo uld remain intense on this muggy night in the center of France, with 44,000 continuing to roar in the Stade Gerla nd. Almost everyone -- Iranians of several factions, Americans, French -- felt some emotion, evoked by a game tha t in reality was played between two teams far from the forefront in world soccer. How much more excruciating coul d it get than when defender David Regis came up to send a leaping left-footer off the left post. That made the co unt one crossbar and two posts. Consider an American football game lost by not once but three times having a fiel d goal attempt hit the goal post.

This was heartbreak. But it was not quite the end. There still would be an exhausting emotional passage through c omplete resignation with a second goal by Iran, illogical hope for a reprieve when McBride scored in the 87th min ute (Who but Americans invented the unbelievable comeback?) and the finality of it all when time ran out.

The World Cup ended for the United States Sunday night, even though a meaningless third game remains, as it seeme d it would all along. But because of how it did -- the three hits that might have been, several late surges creat ed by the dynamic reserve Preki when Coach Steve Sampson finally bestowed him his first chance of the tournament in the 57th minute, the look of defeat and exhaustion and finality in the American players' faces -- this was sad .

Soccer is an emotional game and in a very short time we've been through almost every emotion with this team -- an d, not incidentally, its coach. Disappointment if not anger that the team was not prepared for Germany. Sampson s ent out too many rookies against the Germans. Then he changed so many players for this game, he signaled desperat ion. Yet for all the player shuffling and his changes in strategy, he left Eric Wynalda, the all-time leading sco rer of the U.S. national team, on the bench Sunday night.

It's pretty obvious that Sampson and Wynalda had a falling out. But the best coaches somehow always find a way to make allowances. Vince Lombardi demanded everything his way, but it just so happened that the running back who c ould score five touchdowns on a Sunday afternoon liked things Lombardi's way. Lombardi not only made allowances f or Paul Hornung, he came to love him and all but made him his son.

The Americans, who pushed through to the round of 16 in 1994, peaked in preparation for this World Cup sometime b etween 1995 and 1997. They beat Argentina, 3-0, in the 1995 Copa America and they won the 1995 U.S. Cup. Sampson, until then the interim coach, had the "interim" dropped by the U.S. Soccer Federation. He seemed to have the Ame ricans ready to duplicate their 1994 World Cup performance. Last January, they beat Brazil, 1-0, in the Gold Cup in Los Angeles -- although it was a Brazil without its best lineup. That was then. You know where we are now.

We're sad. Not because the Americans lost to a country at political odds with ours. Not even because the American s lost to a country playing in only its second World Cup. We're sad because, in fact, American soccer has progres sed over the years. This team was much better than the 1990 team that bowed out in Italy in three straight. This team, at least on paper, was better than the 1994 team that showed fine progress.

We're sad because this team wasn't prepared for France '98. The U.S. Soccer Federation should think more clearly now about how to prepare for 2002 and, so as not to be a world laughingstock, stop announcing ludicrous goals suc h as winning the World Cup in 2010.

Iranian Minister Fired, Re-Hired
Associated Press
TEHRAN:Iran's hard-line parliament impeached Abdollah Nouri, the moderate interior minister, today, but in a coun terblow, President Mohammed Khatemi named him deputy president for development and social affairs.

Khatemi created the post in a clear message to hard-liners that he intends to keep Nouri in the government.

Khatemi also appointed Mostafa Tajzadeh, deputy interior minister for social affairs, and a loyalist of Khatemi a nd Nouri, as acting interior minister.

In a blow to Khatemi's moderate policies, 137 members in the 270-member Majlis, or parliament, voted to impeach N ouri. One hundred twenty-eight supported him, with three abstentions.

Nouri's appointment as the deputy president indicated that Khatemi may be willing to go to any length to challeng e the hard-liners.

Nouri was accused of jeopardizing the Islamic nation's stability and appeared in parliament to respond to questio ns by the 31 hard-line deputies who had demanded his impeachment.

The deputies accused him among other things of allowing a rally last month to protest the influence of the hard-l ine clergy in Iran.

The motion accused Nouri, a clergyman, of "creating tension in the society, making provocative interviews and spe eches in different provinces and appointing inexperienced people to managerial posts at the ministry."

Iran Celebrates World Cup Win
By Afshin Valinejad
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Fans draped in the national green-red-and-white flags danced in the streets and others yelled ``Iran!'' as millions partied into the pre-dawn hours today, celebrating the country's World Cup de feat of the ``Great Satan.''

Sunday's 2-1 victory over the United States in Lyon, France, advances Iran to the second round of World Cup competition and prevents the United States from moving onto the next round. No matter the results of the U .S.-Yugoslavia match on Thursday, the American squad has been eliminated.

But the 90-minute match was about more than soccer.

The United States broke off relations with Iran after militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran at the s tart of the 1979 Islamic revolution and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

The hard-line clergy that took power branded the United States a ``Great Satan,'' although such rhetoric ha s softened since President Mohammad Khatami took office last August.

After Sunday's soccer victory, sweet shops reopened in the middle of the night and distributed free ice cre am and candy to revelers who packed Tehran's streets.

``Nobody is sitting at home. It is impossible for anybody to be inside their home!'' teen-ager Human Razavi shouted above the din of honking cars.

Some shouted ``We love you Ali Daie!'' -- referring to Iran's star player. Others sang, ``Estili we love yo u.'' Hamidi Estili scored Iran's first goal.

Thousands of police deployed across the city did not interfere with the crowds but accepted flowers from fa ns with smiles.

In a message to the Iranian team that was read on state television, Iran's hard-line spiritual leader, Ayat ollah Ali Khamenei, said: ``Tonight again, the strong and arrogant opponent felt the bitter taste of defeat at your hands. Be happy that you have made the Iranian nation happy.''

The moderate Khatami, however, simply congratulated the Iranian players, saying the victory is a ``symbol o f national unity.''

Khatami's recent overtures of friendship helped take the edge off Iran's enmity with the United States. But the belief that Washington has done its best to isolate Iran internationally ensured that Iranians saw the game as a grudge match.

Still, there were no ``Death to America'' slogans, common after 1979, when Islamic hard-liners overthrew th e pro-U.S. shah and installed a clerical regime that presided over 19 years of hostility between the two co untries.

Instead, people greeted each other with ``mubarak, mubarak,'' the Farsi word for congratulations.

Celebrations also erupted in Lebanon, where people fired guns into the air.

The skyline of Ramallah, West Bank, lit up with fireworks. Palestinians cheered and honked horns, as did pe ople in Cairo, Egypt.

People in Israel, a bitter enemy of Iran, rooted for the United States.

In Lyon, frenzied Iranians spilled out of the stadium and turned the celebration into a jubilant rally for dissident leaders.

Thousands removed their red and green football jerseys to reveal T-shirts bearing photos of Maryam Rajavi, wife of Massoud Rajavi, who heads the Mujahadeen Khalq resistance movement. Dissidents want Maryam Rajavi t o be the president of a new Iran.

Dancing to pounding drums and bellowing jubilation, they chanted, ``Iran Rajavi, Rajavi Iran.'' An overwhel ming majority at the rally were Iranians living in Europe and elsewhere abroad.

``This is the first time in 18 years we've had a chance to express our view like this,'' said Alireza Jafar zadeh, a member of the resistance. ``A lot of these people have lost family members to repression; for them this is life and death.''

French police had confiscated many of the shirts before the game, enforcing a World Cup rule against mixing politics and soccer. But organizers claimed 25,000 got through security checks.

Opinions Aired During US-Iran Match
By Richard Pyle
Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) -- On the soccer field in France, it was Iran 2, United States 1. On the televised satellite linkup of a group of college students in New York and counterparts in Tehran, it was pretty much a draw.

The much-ballyhooed World Cup clash offered a chance for Internews, a non-profit organization that sponsors Vis a Vis -- a series of international dialogues and discussions on major issues via live satellite linkup -- to bring the two sides together.

In Sunday's program at New York University, the American students watched their Iranian counterparts, who c ould also see the Americans, while at the same time both sides watched the soccer match in Lyon, France. Ex cept for some audio problems that made the Iranians hard to understand here, they had no problems communica ting.

In pregame conversations and in a more lively exchange at halftime, the Americans and Iranians, eight to a side, discussed sports, life in their respective countries and the chances ``misunderstandings'' that keep the two governments at odds can be resolved through good will among ordinary citizens.

``We don't have to start government to government, We can start people to people to establish relations. Go vernment to government will follow -- whether it's in the States or in Iran,'' said Ali Hajebnejad, 19, who lived in the United States for six years and is the economics editor for a Tehran English-language daily.

``When you're talking about person to person and human to human, I would definitely have to agree with that ,'' replied Tyrone Turnipseed, 20, a Brooklyn-born NYU student. `To change public opinion is our agenda. It will take time for this kind of dialogue to trickle down, settle itself in the political structure.''

When Iran scored first, the Iranians cheered and gave each other American-style high-fives. When it scored again, Iranian Soroush Davoodi, 14, waved an Iranian flag on camera. In New York, NYU soccer captain Matt R usconi, 20, waved a white towel symbolic of surrender.

On one point there appeared general agreement: Members of both sides said they thought U.S.-Iran relations were made more difficult by ``propaganda'' about Iran in the American media.

But there was no mention of the major issues that have dominated and chilled U.S.-Iran relations over the l ast two decades: the Islamic fundamentalist revolution and the 1979 hostage crisis; Iran's ``fatwa'' death sentence of author Salman Rushdie; and the deaths of 290 people in the U.S. Navy shootdown of an Iranian je tliner 10 years ago.

Nor did the subject of Iranian political developments come up. Neither side noted that Iran's reform-minded President Mohammad Khatami had countered legislative hard-liners' impeachment of a key aide on Sunday by n aming him to new post of deputy president.

The World Cup linkup was not intended to confront cosmic issues of international relations, but merely to e nable the two groups of Americans and Iranians to speak to each other directly, while sharing a common expe rience, said Kim Spencer, managing director of Internews.

``The way to break down stereotypes is to get real people talking to each other, not the experts, not the j ournalists,'' Spencer said. ``We bring together two people, or two groups, and we let them talk.''

Iran 2, United States 1
By Ronald Blum
AP Sports Writer
LYON, France (AP) -- As much as U.S. players tried to spin it, their exasperated expressions said it all. < P> When for once soccer was big news back home, the Americans were humiliated 2-1 by Iran on Sunday night, eli minated from the World Cup by one of the weakest teams in the field.

``It's not easy. It kind of sits in your stomach,'' U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna said after players quickl y shuffled out of the stadium. ``It's a bad feeling.''

They wanted to show the world they should be taken seriously, that the United States no longer is a soccer backwater. Instead, they're first-round losers, taking a giant step back from four years ago.

``I wouldn't change a thing,'' coach Steve Sampson said. ``We could have easily won by three, four goals to night.''

That's what the U.S team has been saying all year. The Americans probably will still be saying it after the ir meaningless final game against Yugoslavia on Thursday night.

Three times, the United States hit the crossbar. Another time, the Americans hit the post. And several time s, they missed wide-open shots the world's top teams easily would have put away.

``I don't know if it came down to country, national pride or anything of that sort,'' U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller said as jubilant Iranians chanted outside Stade Gerland. ``It came down to us hitting the post too many times and them getting one or two easy chances.''

Iranian players, who gave the Americans white flowers before the game in a gesture of peace, danced around the field, pumping their arms at the mostly Iranian crowd -- many on whom unfurled large banners supporting a group opposing the ruling government.

The victory, the nation's first ever in the World Cup, set off wild celebrations in Tehran, where the Unite d States has been ``The Great Satan'' since the Islamic Revolution toppled the U.S.-backed shah in 1979.

`Tonight, again, the strong and arrogant opponent felt the bitter taste of defeat at your hands,'' Ayatolla h Ali Khamenei, the nation's spiritual leader, said in a message to his team. ``Be happy that you have made the Iranian nation happy.''

Sampson, who may be replaced after the tournament, changed five of the 11 starters from the opening 2-0 los s to Germany. Adding more attacking players helped the Americans outshoot Iran 27-15.

But the U.S. team lost its composure after Hamid Estili scored on a counterattack in the 40th minute, getti ng away from Reyna and Tab Ramos to head a cross into the far corner of the net over a diving Keller.

``Our reaction after they went 1-0 was not good,'' Reyna said. ``As a team we sort of lost it, fell apart.' '

Brian McBride, one of the new U.S. starters, hit the crossbar in the third minute, then hit the post in the 15th. Reyna hit the post in the 33rd.

``The first two, three minutes, we were pummeling them,'' Cobi Jones said. ``Then there started to be a let down after 15, 20 minutes and they started to get into the game.''

The second half was just like the first. Reyna missed on a bicycle kick in front of the net off a header pa ss from McBride in the 57th, Preki Radosavljevic was wide on an open header in the 63rd, David Regis hit th e goalpost in the 68th and Frankie Hejduk sent a header right into goalkeeper Ahmad Abedzadeh with the enti re net to shoot for in the 79th.

Mehdi Mahdavikia then made it 2-0 with a breakaway goal in the 83rd, sending Iranian players into a wild, h ugging, kissing celebration.

``We were all crying,'' Mahdavikia said.

Iran nearly took a three-goal lead four minutes later, but Ali Daei's shot was cleared of the goal line by Regis. Finally, McBride scored less than a minute later when his header bounced off a defender standing on the goal line.

``We were the better team tonight,' U.S. forward Roy Wegerle said, ``but we scored too late and that cost u s victory.''

At the end, Iranian players mobbed each other on the field, then ran to a section of the stands filled with their countrymen. The teams exchanged jerseys, as is the custom, but players broke with tradition and carr ied the opposing jerseys off the field in their hands instead of putting them on.

``It is a big victory for the Iranian nation,'' coach Jalal Talebi said, ``not because it was the United St ates, but because it was Iran's first World Cup win.''

Before the game, both teams posed together in an unusual joint picture, one of many unique aspects of a gam e U.S. politicians seized as an opportunity that might lead to a thawing of relations between the nations.

American players were all smiles then, but by the end of the night, their faces were grim.

``You play that game 10 times and we are going to win it nine times,'' U.S. Soccer Federation president Ala n Rothenberg said. ``Unfortunately, this was the 10th.

``You tell me what Steve did wrong tonight? I don't think it was the coach's fault, I don't think it was th e players' fault. We played our hearts out. We played a perfect game. We didn't put the ball in the back of the net.''

Notes:@ While Iranians gave the U.S. players flowers, the Americans in turn gave them USSF pennants. Iran also presented U.S. captain Thomas Dooley with a silver-colored plate . ... Hundreds of fans wore T-shirts with the photo of Massoud Rajavi, head of an Iraq-based group opposed to the Islamic regime. About a dozen banners with the name of Rajavi and his wife Marjam were raised, but s tadium security wrestled them away and forcibly removed some of the fans. ``Maybe I saw,'' Talebi said, ``b ut I don't want to interfere with something that is not my business.''


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