Two of Iran’s most bitter soccer rivals may soon become tools of diplomacy, the Guardian reports. Persepolis and Esteghlal Tehran are planning US tours, to culminate in a match, likely in a city with a large Iranian population. “For holding several friendly matches, including one against the Tehran Esteghlal team, Persepolis will travel to the US,” Persepolis’ manager told a state media outlet.
“Has Iran chosen football, in which it is skilled and privileged, compared to pingpong?” an official said, referencing the sport that helped spark US-China détente; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is well known as a soccer enthusiast. Meetings between Persepolis and Eteghlal are notoriously violent, particularly in regard to fans, but the American version could be tamer.