DNI-NEWS Digest - 21 Jun 1998

There are 15 messages totalling 1033 lines in this issue. Topics of the day: 1. Flowers are giving fruit: Iran 2- USA 1 2. Soccer-World Cup-Iran and US teams exchange gifts before match 3. Iranian parliament ousts moderate interior minister 4. U.S. goes down in flames to Iran 2-1 :-) 5. Iran send Americans packing 6. World Cup-Iran stage historic 2-1 win over U.S. 7. Iran ends U.S. Cup dream 8. World Cup-Talebi thanks God for Iran win 9. World Cup-Iran coach says U.S. also deserved to win 10. World Cup-Violence flares despite US-Iran goodwill 11. Iranian fans celebrate soccer win in streets 12. World Cup-Jubilant Iranians mix protest and celebrations 13. Lebanese celebrate Iran soccer win over America 14. Iran revels in victory 15. Exiled Iranians demonstrate before game

Flowers are giving fruit: Iran 2- USA 1

Flowers are giving fruit: Iran 2- USA 1

Asghar


Soccer-World Cup-Iran and US teams exchange gifts before match

Soccer-World Cup-Iran and US teams exchange gifts before match 03:17 p.m Jun 21, 1998 Eastern

LYON, June 21 (Reuters) - Players from the United States and Iran exchanged gifts in a gesture of sportsmanship before the start of their World Cup Group F match on Sunday.

Iran's players presented each of their opponents with a bouquet of flowers and the Americans gave each Iranian a pennant as they shook hands before the game.

Iranian exiles in the noisy crowd unfurled a banner of Maryam Rajavi, a resistance leader, during the playing of Iran's national anthem.

Minor scuffles broke out as security guards moved into the crowd to remove the banner but the situation was soon calm.

The exiles had held up banners showing Rajavi's name before the playing of the national anthem without incident.

Other fans waved banners showing both the American and Iranian flags together.

Iran's coach Jalal Talebi had said before the match that the Iranian team would make a surprise gesture.

It is a tradition in Iran to give flowers to the opposing team before international matches.

The Iranian players presented roses to the Yugoslav team before their first match in St Etienne a week ago.

The teams posed together, arms round each others shoulders, for the traditional pre-match photographs.

Fans from both countries mingled together in a friendly atmosphere before the match.


Iranian parliament ousts moderate interior minister

Iranian parliament ousts moderate interior minister
But president installs him as deputy president

June 21, 1998 Web posted at: 1:39 p.m. EDT (1739 GMT)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's hard-line parliament on Sunday impeached interior minister Abdollah Nouri in what was widely seen as a rebuke to reformist President Mohammad Khatami. But Khatami immediately named Nouri as deputy president.

Khatami's move indicates that he may go to any length to challenge the hard-liners in parliament. Khatami has been under pressure from hard-line opponents ever since he came to power in a landslide victory in 1997 -- a move that shook the foundations of Iran's clerical rule and was considered a triumph for civil liberties in the Islamic republic.

Khatami, issuing a one-line statement, said about Nouri: "Due to your capabilities, I appoint you as the deputy president for development and social affairs."

Khatami also appointed deputy interior minister for social affairs Mostafa Tajzadeh as the acting interior minister, state-run television reported.

Earlier in the day deputies dealt a big blow to Khatami's moderate policies when 137 members in the 270-member parliament voter to impeach Nouri.

Nouri was not present when the results were announced after the secret ballot.

The impeachment would require Nouri to resign.

Nouri was accused of jeopardizing the Islamic nation's stability and appeared in parliament Sunday to respond to questions by 31 deputies demanding his impeachment.

Among other things, the impeachment motion accused Nouri of allowing a rally last month to protest the influence of the hard-line clergy in Iran.

Nouri's impeachment was seen by observers as a victory for conservative members of Iran's ruling clergy who want to discredit officials loyal to Khatami.

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

Nouri defended all his appointments and said there was a plot to divide the new generation of leaders and the clergy.

"I do not claim that I have never made a mistake. However, you should realize there is a plot afoot to separate the young, bright university generation from the revolution and the clergy," he told a packed parliament hall.

In Sunday's hearing, Nouri was also criticized for being quoted on Israeli radio. Nouri countered that he was not responsible for where his comments appeared.

"I've given dozens of press conferences and interviews and some parliament members go looking for a couple of words here and there ... to use against me. That's not fair," he said.

Several hard-line deputies claimed drug-smuggling, kidnappings and violence had increased since Nouri assumed power. They also accused Nouri of hiring people who were not entirely committed to the ideals of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and for firing people who were not liberals.


U.S. goes down in flames to Iran 2-1 :-)

U.S. goes down in flames to Iran 2-1

Punchless offense leads to World Cup elimination

Posted: Sunday June 21, 1998 05:27 PM

LYON, France (AP) -- The Great Satan is going home in humiliation.

Iran, which has been chanting "Death to America!" for nearly two decades, killed off the U.S. soccer team from World Cup contention Sunday night, shocking the Americans 2-1 in a game sure to set off wild celebrations back in Tehran.

Hamid Estili scored on a counterattack in the 40th minute, and Mehdi Mahdavukia came through with a breakway goal in the 83rd.

The Americans spent almost the entire game showing they really are the gang who couldn't shoot straight, scoring only with four minutes left when Brian McBride put in a shot off defender Naim Saadavi.

McBride hit the crossbar in the third minute, hit the post in the 15th and Claudio Reyna hit the post in the 33rd.

It was more of the same in the second half. Reyna missed on a bicycle kick in front of the net off a header pass from McBride in the 57th. Preki Radosavljevic was wide on an open header in the 63rd. David Regis hit the goalpost in the 68th and Frankie Hejduk sent a header right into goalkeeper Ahmad Abedzadeh with the entire net to shoot for in the 79th.

The United States, needing a victory following an opening 2-0 loss to Germany, swarmed all over Iran through much of the game, but it was able to find the back of the net just once all game.

Before a loud, mostly pro-Iranian crowd of about 44,000 in Stade Gerland, the Americans were shown they have a long way to go before they are considered a world soccer power. Instead, they joined Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea and Jamaica in being eliminated from this World Cup.

Iran's victory undoubtedly will set off months of soul-searching in the American soccer community and probably will lead to the departure of Steve Sampson, the first American-born coach of the national team.

After advancing to the second round as the host country in 1994, American soccer took a giant step backward this time. While the U.S. team knew it would have a difficult time advancing from a first-round group that included European champion Germany, Yugoslavia and Iran, the Americans never anticipated they would fail so completely.

Not even Sampson's all-out offensive lineup helped. Following the dismal loss to Germany, he changed five of his 11 starters in a move to add offense. While the Americans generated chances, they failed at opportunities for goals that most world-class players would have put away.

The game had obvious ramifications beyond the field because of the strained relationship between the United States and Iran. The nations broke off diplomatic relations during the 1979-81 hostage crisis and President Clinton and other American officials saw this game as an opportunity for a thaw.

Before the game, the starting lineups of both teams broke tradition and posed for a joint picture instead of the usual separate team photos -- as requested by FIFA on Fair Play Day. Iranian starters gave their U.S. counterparts white flowers, and the Americans in turn gave them U.S. Soccer Federation pennants. Iran presented U.S. captain Thomas Dooley with a silver-colored plate.

After the game, the teams exchanged jerseys, but the Iranians did not put on the American shirts.

In one section of the stands, hundreds of fans wore T-shirts with the photo of Massoud Rajavi, head of an Iraq-based group opposed to the Islamic regime in place since the shah was ousted in 1979. About a dozen banners with the name of Rajavi and his wife Marjam were raised, but stadium security wrestled them away and forcibly removed some of the fans.

The tone was set in the first five minutes, when McBride hit the crossbar and then fell down when Cobi Jones gave him a soft pass with an open net. McBride, put in the lineup because he's good with headers, then clanked one off the crossbar. By the time Reyna hit the post, the frustration was showing. Not believing the shot didn't go in, he raised both hands to the side of his head as a pained expression filled his face.

Notes: Sampson inserted McBride, Moore, Tab Ramos, Roy Wegerle and Frankie Hejduk, benching career scoring leader Eric Wynalda, Ernie Stewart, Brian Maisonneuve, Chad Deering and Mike Burns. Stewart and Radosavljevic replaced Ramos and Wegerle in the 57th minute.


Iran send Americans packing

Iran send Americans packing

Diplomacy took a back seat at a seething Stade Gerland here on Sunday as Iran bundled political foe the United States out of the World Cup with a stunning 2-1 victory in their Group F grudge match.

The luckless Americans dominated for long periods and hit the woodwork three times in a frenzied match but Hamid Estili's 41st-minute header and a breakway effort from Mehdi Mahdavikia with seven minutes left sealed a dramatic win for Jalal Talebi's side.

Brian McBride's 87th-minute header came too late to save the United States.

" With all the media attention surrounding the match it was difficult to hold our nerves, " admitted a jubilant Talebi. " They dominated us technically but that's football-we scored the goals. "

Iran now have three points, one behind Group F leaders Germany and Yugoslavia, while the United States, who lost their first match 2-0 to Germany, and are on their way home.

American coach Steve Sampson made sweeping changes to the side that started the 2-0 defeat by Germany, calling up midfielders duo Frankie Hejduk and Tab Ramos and forwards Roy Wegerle, Brian McBride and Joe-Max Moore as he kept his promise to attack from the start.

Iran were boosted by the return of captain and goalkeeper Ahmad Abedzadeh, who missed the opening 1-0 defeat by Yugoslavia.

Players of the two countries, who have had no diplomatic relations since 1980, started by exchanging gifts and flowers and posing together for the cameras. But once the first whistle went, the diplomatic niceties were left very much on the substitutes' bench. Hejduk clattered into an opponent after just 90 seconds to earn the wrath of the thousands of nosiy Iranians and six minutes later was on the receving end as Mehrdad Minavand earned himself a yellow card.

By then Abedzadeh had already been left helpless when Claudio Reyna lofted in a free-kick from the right and McBride rose majestically only to see his third-minute header rebound off the crossbar. The Americans, with Reyna and Ramos prompting busily from the midfield, dominated early on and McBride was unlucky again after 15 minutes when he had another header ruled out for offside.

Six minutes later, Iran, who were content to play on the break, had a strong penalty claim turned down when Khodadad Azizi raced onto to a pass from Ali Daei following an error by Ramos. American goalkeeper Kasey Keller advanced to the edge of his area and when Azizi poked the ball through his legs the pair crashed to the ground but Swiss referee Urs Meier waved play on.

Reyna then smacked a left-footed effort against the base of Abedzadeh's post but it was Iran, with Karim Bagheri increasingly prominent in midfield, who came on stronger as the end of the half approached and four minutes before they interval they had their breakthrough. Javad Zarincheh escaped down the right and cut back a perfect cross for a totally unmarked Estili to head over Keller and send the Iranian contingent into frenzy. Azizi then flashed a shot over and it was the Americans who were most relieved as the two sides headed for the dressing rooms.

Iran started the second period as they finished the first with Mehdi Mahdavikia, whose runs down the right flank were a constant menace, firing in a left-footed drive which went just wide. Bagheri, by now passing imperiously from the midfield, drove a shot of his own past Keller's upright after 56 minutes and it was too much for Sampson, who immediately brought on Predrag Preki and Ernie Stewart for Ramos and the ineffective Wegerle.

The move seemed to energise the Americans, and both captain Thomas Dooley and Reyna went close. Another Dooley header after 68 minutes had Abedzadeh scrambling across his goal as the Americans, playing with increasing urgency, began to lay seige to the Iranian goal.

Moore shot wide from 20 yards and then defender David Regis side-footed a cross onto the near post with goalkeeper Abedzadeh rooted to his line. With 12 minutes left McBride flicked on a corner and Hejduk seemed certain to equalise only for Abedzadeh to career off his line to block superbly.

The Americans were made to pay dearly for their misses after 83 minutes when the outstanding Mahdavikia, Asian footballer of the year, raced onto a superb through ball and hammered the ball past Keller to make it 2-0.

Daei was then thwarted by a combination of Keller and Pope as the Americans left themselves wide open at the back, and when McBride finally headed home from a corner with three minutes left, despite the best efforts of the Iranian defence to clear the ball off the line, it was too little far too late for Sampson's side.

" We played with a lot of intensity and a lot of aggression but it just did not pan out for us tonight, " said the American coach. " But we can be proud of our players. "

Talebi, in contrast, was turning his attention to future conquests. " Now I hope we can beat Germany so there can be an even bigger party back home, " he said. - AFP - 1998


World Cup-Iran stage historic 2-1 win over U.S.

World Cup-Iran stage historic 2-1 win over U.S.

By Bert Lauwers LYON, June 21 (Reuters) - A brilliant first-half header by midfielder Hamid Estili and a stinging right-foot shot from Mehdi Mahdavikia six minutes from time gave Iran an historic 2-1 World Cup victory over the United States on Sunday. A fumbled goal, apparently scored by Brian McBride, in the dying minutes allowed the Americans to claw one back. It was the Iranians' first ever win in the World Cup finals in the most politically sensitive match of the 1998 tournament. The first strike came after 40 minutes when the unmarked Estili sent his looping header off a perfect Javad Zarincheh cross from the right over goalkeeper Kasey Keller. The second came after Mahdavikia picked up the ball just inside the American half and ran it unchallenged to the edge of the box before crashing it home. Kasey Keller just got his fingers to the ball but could not keep it out. The final goal was scored in a tumble of bodies just on the line as the U.S. pushed every one forward. The technically superior Iranians, who lost their opening game against Yugoslavia 1-0, are now ranked one point behind joint group leaders Germany and Yugoslavia while the U.S. are out of the reckoning after two defeats. Iran had failed to win any of their three games in 1978, their only other appearance in the finals. On Sunday Iran were lucky to escape an early U.S. strike when Brian McBride rose above the defence after three minutes to send a powerful header off a Claudio Reyna free kick against the crossbar. Reyna again hit the woodwork with a ferocious 25-metre drive against the near post in the 34th as goalkeeper Ahmad Abedzadeh dived at full stretch. The U.S. were unlucky again when Martinique-born David Regis side-footed against the near post in the 74th. But Iran could have justified a penalty in the 21st minute when Khodadad Azizi outpaced U.S. captain Tom Dooley to a long ball but fell under the challenge of goalkeeper Kasey Keller as he burst into the area. Swiss referee Urs Meier however ignored Iranian penalty claims and waved play on.

Reuters Limited Sun Jun 21 22:58:56 1998


Iran ends U.S. Cup dream

LYON, France (ESPN SportsZone and news services) -- This was humiliation, and it had nothing to do with politics.

Iran eliminated the United States from the World Cup with a 2-1 victory Sunday night in one of the most-heralded games the U.S. soccer team has ever played.

On the world's stage with a chance to prove it belongs with the elite teams, the United States flopped, missing numerous scoring opportunities, while the Iranians capitalized on the few they had.

Much of the buildup to the game dealt with the countries' decades-long animosity toward each other. But on game day, the teams posed in a group photo together, exchanged flowers and pennants, and played clean, intense soccer.

"It's not easy. It kind of sits in your stomach," U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna said. "It's a bad feeling."

The Americans, who hoped to improve on their second-round finish four years ago, spent almost the entire game creating and missing chance after chance after chance. They scored only with four minutes left when Brian McBride put a header in off defender Naim Saadavi.

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

Three times, the United States hit the crossbar. Another time, a U.S. shot hit the post. And several times, the U.S. missed open shots the world's top teams would have easily put away.

Iran made just one previous appearance in the World Cup, going winless in 1978. It was regarded as one of the weakest teams in the field and for the first time in at least a half-century, the United States went into a World Cup game as a favorite.

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

McBride hit the crossbar in the third minute, then hit the post in the 15th and 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 letdown after 15, 20 minutes and they started to get into the game."

Hamid Estili scored on a counterattack in the 40th minute. Mehdi Mahdavukia came through with a breakaway goal in the 83rd, giving Iran its first World Cup victory -- and setting off wild celebrations in Tehran, where the United States has been "The Great Satan" for nearly two decades.

"Our reaction after they went 1-0 was not good," Reyna said. "As a team we sort of lost it, fell apart. We needed that halftime break."

The poor marksmanship in the first half was just as evident in the second. Reyna missed on a bicycle kick in front of the net off a header pass from McBride in the 57th. Preki Radosavljevic was wide on an open header in the 63rd. David Regis hit the goalpost in the 68th and Frankie Hejduk sent a header right into goalkeeper Ahmad Abedzadeh with the entire net to shoot for in the 79th.

The United States, needing a victory following an opening 2-0 loss to Germany, swarmed all over Iran through much of the game, but could only come up with the one late goal.

At the end, the Iranian players mobbed each other on the field, then ran to a section of the stands filled with their countrymen. The teams exchanged jerseys, but the Iranians did not put on the U.S. shirts.

Before a loud, mostly pro-Iranian crowd of about 44,000 in Stade Gerland, the Americans were shown they have a long way to go before they are considered a world soccer power. Instead, they joined Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea and Jamaica as the first teams eliminated from the 32-nation field.

Iran's victory undoubtedly will set off months of soul-searching in the American soccer community and could lead to the departure of Sampson, the first American-born coach of the national team.

"You play that game 10 times and we are going to win it nine times," said U.S. Soccer Federation president Alan Rothenberg. "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 the players' fault. We played our hearts out, we played a perfect game. We didn't put the ball in the back of the net."

While the U.S. team knew it would have a difficult time advancing from a first-round group that included European champion Germany, Yugoslavia and Iran, the U.S. never anticipated it would fail so completely.

Not even Sampson's all-out offensive lineup helped. Following the dismal loss to Germany, he changed five of his 11 starters in a move to add offense.

The game had obvious ramifications beyond the field because of the strained relationship between the United States and Iran. The nations broke off diplomatic relations during the 1979-81 hostage crisis and President Clinton and other U.S. officials saw this game as an opportunity for a thaw.

Before the game, the starting lineups of both teams broke tradition and posed for the joint picture instead of the usual separate team photos -- as requested by FIFA on Fair Play Day. Iranian starters gave their U.S. counterparts white flowers, and the U.S. starters in turn gave them USSF pennants. Iran presented U.S. captain Thomas Dooley with a silver-colored plate.

In one section of the stands, hundreds of fans wore T-shirts with the photo of Massoud Rajavi, head of an Iraq-based group opposed to the Islamic regime in place since the shah was ousted in 1979. About a dozen banners with the name of Rajavi and his wife Marjam were raised, but stadium security wrestled them away and forcibly removed some of the fans.

"Maybe I saw," Talebi said, "but I don't want to interfere with something that is not my business."

Notes: Sampson inserted McBride, Moore, Tab Ramos, Roy Wegerle and Frankie Hejduk, benching career scoring leader Eric Wynalda, Ernie Stewart, Brian Maisonneuve, Chad Deering and Mike Burns. Stewart and Radosavljevic replaced Ramos and Wegerle in the 57th minute.

WORLD CUP SCOREBOARD


World Cup-Talebi thanks God for Iran win

LYON, June 21 (Reuters) - Iran coach Jalal Talebi said he thanked God for helping his team win their World Cup match against the United States on Sunday. "I thank God for having helped us. I thank also the Iranian people for having supported us," Talebi said. "All the members of the team have been making a lot of effort the past month .. We're very happy." U.S. coach Steve Sampson said his side created chances but could not finish them. "We said from the start we would attack and we did attack. "We created chances but it just did not work out." "The Iranians played well they came out like us ready to attack," he said. Sampson said he was proud of the way the team had played but felt sorry for the fans who had supported them for the last three years.

World Cup-Iran coach says U.S. also deserved to win

(adds more detailed quotes) LYON, June 21 (Reuter) - Iran coach Jalal Talebi said on Sunday the United States also deserved to win their World Cup match on Sunday. "Technically they were over us and dominated most of the game," Talebi said. "They deserved to win too, but at the end of the game only one team can win and it was our chance to be the winning team. "I congratulate you Mr.Sampson, we had fewer chances but we scored the goals and you didn't and that's why we won the game." "I knew it was a very sensitive game and I knew that we were going to play hard with an opponent that wanted to win and it wasn't going to be an easy game," Talebi added. "I am very happy for all the Iranians and all the people involved in football in Iran and all the people in Iran. I know they are very happy," he said. U.S. coach Steve Sampson said: "I am proud of the team but maybe it is time to rethink our play at this level". "We did what we set out to do -- attack and get behind their defence, I think we achieved that goal. For the entire match we played to win. Certainly we took risks to get the win. "It was unfortunate that in the first half (Hamid) Estili was able to score with a header, which forced us to take more risks" "I am very proud of the players and the attitude with which they approached the game," Sampson added. "You have got to give Iran credit. In the first half they forced us to take risks and they were able to get the second when we were pushing forward. "They were able to defend well and counter-attack when we were pushing more players into our attack. I must give them complete credit for the victory and I congratutlate them," Sampson said.

World Cup-Violence flares despite US-Iran goodwill

By Simon Haydon PARIS, June 21 (Reuters) - Violence stole the day again at the World Cup on Sunday despite the sporting spirit of Iran's 2-1 win over the United States in the most politically sensitive match of the tournament.

A French gendarme was critically ill in a coma after being left in a pool of blood by German hooligans who repeatedly beat him over the head and then kicked him as he lay on the ground. The assault provided a grim backdrop to an exciting 2-2 draw between Germany and Yugoslavia in the northern city of Lens.

The violence also contrasted sharply with the warmth of American and Iranian players who greeted each other like long lost friends and posed for photographs. In purely soccer terms, the plaudits went to Gabriel Batistuta whose hat-trick helped Argentina hammer Jamaica 5-0.

In Lyon, the Iranians gave the Americans flowers and both teams demonstrated what they have claimed all along -- that they were just two normal soccer teams.

And just like any other team, Iran were unable to contain their joy at winning their first World Cup match. A joint photograph before the match, as players from the two sides mingled, was a symbolic moment of togetherness for two nations which have been at each others' throats for 20 years. In Lens, police chief Daniel Cadoux said the German attackers were "sober, organised, mobile thugs using communications to disperse and regroup rapidly.

"It was not like in Marseille where they were supporters drunk on alcohol," he added, referring to mayhem in the southern French city last weekend when English hooligans fought with Tunisians and police. A Brazilian television reporter was also injured and taken to hospital after hooligans rounded on him while filming the violence in Lens.

His condition was not serious.

Police questioned 96 people -- 93 of them Germans -- about various clashes in Lens. Fifteen were still in custody on Sunday night, including the alleged attackers of the gendarme, police sources said.

In Toulouse, where England play Romania on Monday night, tension was growing between English supporters and riot police in the city centre.

Police reinforcements have been drafted in to prevent a repetition of the Marseille riots. The interior ministry said 11 suspected hooligans, seven Germans and four English, would be expelled from France under emergency legislation brought in to deal with the hooliganism. In Paris, Argentina gave Jamaica a football lesson.

Goal machine Gabriel Batistuta scored the first hat-trick of the competition and Ariel Ortega scored twice in the victory that puts Argentina and Croatia through to the last 16. The Jamaicans have provided song, dance and fun at the World Cup but the quality gap has been glaring and the Caribbean team were eliminated.

In Lyon, a brilliant first-half header by midfielder Hamid Estili and a stinging right-foot shot from Mehdi Mahdavikia six minutes from time gave Iran their historic victory.

A fumbled goal, scored by Brian McBride, in the dying minutes allowed the Americans to claw one back. In Lens, Germany dug deep into their reserves of experience and character to snatch a thrilling draw with Yugoslavia in the most exciting match of the tournament so far.

Coach Berti Vogts said: "The team was on its knees but in the last 25 minutes we showed how you can almost make a victory out of a defeat." Yugoslavia seemed to be heading for a win with goals by Dejan Stankovic and Dragan Stojkovic before substitute Michael Tarnat and Oliver Bierhoff responded in a five-minute purple patch to salvage a point.

The game also marked a major milestone for Germany's Lothar Matthaeus who made history by playing in his fifth World Cup and notching up a record 22nd match in the finals.

Before the U.S.-Iran match France prevented 1,000 Iranian fans from entering the country because they were said to be a threat to public order.

The Interior Ministry said the Iranians had been turned back at France's borders with Germany and Belgium. It was also a bad day for South Korea's coach Cha Bum-kun who was fired after Saturday's 5-0 drubbing by the Netherlands which sent the Koreans sliding out of the World Cup.

Reuters Limited Sun Jun 21 23:12:27 1998


Iranian fans celebrate soccer win in streets

(Updates with colour, quotes from Iranian leader) By Kaveh Basmenji

TEHRAN, June 22 (Reuters) - Jubilant Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran early on Monday to mark their first-ever World Cup finals victory, a 2-1 triumph over political arch-rival the United States.

In a public display rarely seen in the Islamic Republic, crowds of men, women and children gathered in the central Vali Asr Square and nearby streets, tying up traffic, waving flags and chanting, "Iran, Iran, Iran". Youths on motor scooters swelled their ranks, some with young women draped in the black chador, or full-length veil, perched on the back.

Overlooked in the joyous shuffle was the fact, beloved of diplomats and pundits, that the game pitted Iran against the United States, its one-time patron and now bitter political foe. No one in the crowd of thousands even mentioned the losers.

However, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei left no doubt that politics was never far from the surface: "Tonight, again, the strong and arrogant opponent felt the bitter taste of defeat at your hands," said Khamenei's message, read out by the Iranian TV announcer after the game.

"Be happy that you have made the Iranian nation happy." Passing cars blew their horns and flashed their lights in time to the revellers' shouts, ignoring police exhortations to limit the noise. But there were no reports of any trouble.

"It was fair game, it was a fair result," said Jalal, 20, with tears of joy in his eyes. "This is the first time I ever saw a football match, and the first time I have stayed awake until 2:00 a.m.," said 65-year-old Ahmad.

Elsewhere, groups of boys and girls -- normally kept from mingling together openly -- ran through the streets, many with radios blaring popular music. Others played drums or danced nearby.

Football fever gripped the Iranian capital as the match got underway in Lyon, France, at 11:30 p.m. local time (1900 GMT).

Boulevards and expressways, normally jammed on warm summer nights, were deserted as Tehranis gathered at home or with friends to watch the game.

At Tehran's international airport, people waiting for friends and family ignored the arriving flights to crowd around a big-screen television.

Airport police and janitors joined in.

The first Iranian goal, in the 40th minute, sent the airport audience jumping for joy. Some tossed flowers meant for arriving loved ones into the air with abandon. A U.S. diplomatic initiative, timed to coincide with the World Cup match, has sparked comparisons with the "ping-pong diplomacy" that helped normalise relations between Washington and Beijing. The United States cut ties to Iran after revolutionary students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 diplomats hostage for more than one year.


World Cup-Jubilant Iranians mix protest and celebrations

By Keith Weir LYON, June 21 (Reuters) - Thousands of jubilant Iranians combined soccer celebrations with political protest on Sunday as Iran scored a 2-1 World Cup victory over arch-foe the United States. Delighted Iranian players draped in the green, white and red national flag raced across the turf at the Stade Gerland after their historic first World Cup win.

Their delirious fans greeted them as heroes while holding up banners in support of the exiled opposition. Iranians mixed happily with American rivals all day in France's elegant second city, swapping handshakes and high-fives and posing for pictures together.

The exiled Iranian opposition exploited the global television coverage of the politically charged match to make their point.

They unfurled brightly coloured banners in support of Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the French-based National Council for Iranian Resistance and kept them aloft during the game. Grouped in pockets of several hundred around the stadium, other protesters constantly leapt up and down waving T-shirts showing portraits of Maryam Rajavi and of her husband, Iranian resistance leader Massoud Rajavi.

Embarrassed stewards tried to get them to take the banners down as they were in defiance of FIFA rules barring political protests from stadiums.

Police moved into a corner of the stadium after the stewards failed to quell the protest and there were minor scuffles, with a number of Iranians ejected.

"We came to show our support for the team and not the regime," said a spokesman for the opposition council. He accused the police of using excessive force but a spokeswoman for the local cup organisers said there were no reports of serious injuries or arrests.

At one stage the protesters found themselves caught up in a Mexican wave which rippled around the stadium. Iranian expatriates had poured into this southern French city all day from other parts of France and neighbouring European countries.

The French authorities turned back around 1,000 members of the opposition after they were found not to have match tickets at border crossings.

Those who did get here toured the streets in their cars, waving flags and honking horns as they celebrated Iran's first appearance in the World Cup for 20 years.

Iran and the United States have been arch-foes for almost two decades and the match was always going to have a political significance far outweighing its importance as a meeting of soccer lightweights.

The game coincided with a U.S. charm offensive towards Tehran and President Bill Clinton said he hoped the game could be "another step in ending the estrangement between our nations".

Before the match the two sides exchanged gifts of flowers and pennants and posed together for photographs. The two countries have not had diplomatic ties since militants took 52 Americans hostage at the U.S. embassy in Tehran during the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Iranian coach Jalal Talebi said he hoped the game could play a part in building closer ties between the two nations.

"Everybody should get more pride and hope for the future. I think this will help people to get it," said Talebi, who ironically has been based in the United States for a number of years. He refused to be drawn into debate on the political protests. "I saw it but I didn't care. I was looking at the game, what I came here for," he said.


Lebanese celebrate Iran soccer win over America

By Michael Georgy BEIRUT, June 21 (Reuters) - Lebanese celebrated Iran's World Cup soccer defeat of the United States with gunfire and fireworks late on Sunday, describing it as a triumph of Islam over a superpower.

Shortly after Shi'ite Moslem Iran beat its arch-rival America, which it has called the "Great Satan", 2-1 in a politically-charged game, jubilant Lebanese took to the streets of Beirut waving Iranian flags. Convoys of cars honking their horns sped down Hamra, the main street in West Beirut. The celebrations were most passionate in the mainly Shi'ite southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital, where the pro-Iranian radical Shi'ite Hizbollah (Party of God) enjoys wide support. "Iran is the crown of Islam. America controls the world but in soccer it could do nothing," said a young Lebanese man. "Iran is an Islamic state that beat a superpower," said another. Crowds blocked traffic and waved Iranian flags and some residents stood on rooftops. A soldier in uniform stood amid the celebrations and fired his Kalashnikov rifle into the air. Ordinary Lebanese fired assault rifles out of the windows of cars. "I am happy. When Moslems decide to get something, they get it in the end," said one woman as teenagers waved yellow Hizbollah flags bearing the emblem of a Kalashnikov and a fist. Young children marched to the Iranian embassy to show their support. Iran backs and funds Hizbollah, which is waging a war of attrition against Israeli occupation troops in south Lebanon. Hizbollah is fiercely opposed to American policies in the Middle East, especially Washington's support for Israel. On Sunday, rocket-propelled grenades exploded near the heavily-fortified American embassy on a hilltop on the edge of east Beirut. There were no casualties or damage in the incident. Iran's soccer victory also won applause in mostly Christian and liberal east Beirut. At a chic American-style restaurant with wide-screen televisions, women in revealing clothing and rowdy men stood up and cheered, waving glasses of beer and wine each time Iranian players scored in the game. But the American team also enjoyed some support. One woman had an American flag wrapped around her head.


Iran revels in victory

By Afshin Valinejad Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran -- Thousands of Iranians poured into the streets chanting "Iran, Iran," cars sped aimlessly around, honking non-stop, and people wept and smiled in joy.

Iran had beaten the United States in the World Cup.

The tensions surrounding the most politically charged game of the tournament erupted into a frenzy of celebrations here Monday morning after Iran's 2-1 victory in the first-round match at Lyon, France. The party promised to last for hours.

A ghostly silence that had enveloped Tehran during the match exploded into a collective human roar that rippled across this city of 10 million when the final whistle signaled an end to the game. It was 1:30 a.m. local time.

In a message to the Iranian team, hard-line spiritual leader Ayatollah 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 message was read on state television.

Moderate President Mohammad Khatami simply congratulated the Iranian players.

Like him, millions of others saw the victory as a time to celebrate rather than to gloat over beating the United States.

There were no chants of "Death to America," once so common after the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the pro-U.S. shah and installed a clerical regime, which started a 19-year-long enmity between the countries.

In a northern Tehran neighborhood, a private school invited fans to watch the match on a giant screen in an auditorium, charging $2 per entry. As the match ended, the 500 young people in the auditorium rushed out with computer printouts proclaiming "Iran beat U.S.A." After pasting the sheets on the rear windshields of their cars, the youths sped away.

Men, women and children mingled in crowds on the streets. Trucks packed with fans waving Iran's green-white-and-red flags roared down the streets, promptly getting stuck in a sea of humans.

Women distributed sweets and candies, while men shouted themselves hoarse.

"Nobody is sitting at home. It is impossible for anybody to be inside their home," shouted Human Razavi, a teenager wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Ali Daei, one of Iran's star players.

"Mubarak, Mubarak," others shouted, using the Farsi word for congratulations. Yet others chanted "Estili, we love you." The object of their adoration: Hamid Estili, who scored the first goal in the 41st minute.

Thousands of police deployed across the city did not interfere with the celebrations, smilingly accepting flowers offered by fans.

Celebrations also erupted in Lebanon, where Iran enjoys a large following among its majority Shiite Muslims. Many people there fired guns in the air. Honking cars also ruled the roads in Cairo, Egypt.

The match was broadcast live in Iraq and dozens of Iraqis interviewed said they would support Iran because they couldn't see themselves rooting for the United States.


Exiled Iranians demonstrate before game

Reuters

LYON, France -- Exiled Iranians demonstrated against the Tehran government shortly before the kickoff of Iran's politically charged World Cup match against the United States on Sunday.

In a carefully orchestrated protest, scores of screaming and whistling Iranians held up bright orange banners showing a photo of Maryam Rajavi, described as their president-elect by the exiled National Council for Iranian Resistance.

Others held up long fluorescent green banners with the words "Iran Rajavi" emblazoned on them.

World Cup officials moved into the stand behind one of the goals to ask protesters to put the banenrs away, and minor scuffles ensued. A spokesman for the council said around a dozen Iranians had been taken out of the stadium.

Some of the banners remained on display throughout the first half.

The game between Iran and the U.S., bitter enemies for almost two decades, is the most politically sensitive of the tournament.

It has coincided with a U.S. charm offensive towards Tehran, President Bill Clinton saying he hoped the game would be "another step in ending the estrangement between our nations."

The two countries have not had diplomatic ties since Islamic militant occupied the American embassy and took 52 Americans hostage in 1979.

The opposition Iranians in the French-based council had denounced what they saw as attempts by Tehran to use the team's participation in the World Cup for propaganda.

Thousands of Iranian expatriates have poured into Lyon from all over France and neighbouring countries. The majority said they wanted to celebrate Iran's first World Cup appearance since 1978 and to set aside politics for the day.

Some Iranians carried faded national flags with the pre-revolutionary symbol of a sword, a lion and sun to distance themselves from the Islamic government in Tehran

But most of the Iranians were happy to fraternize with their U.S. rivals uniting the Stars and Stripes with their own modern green, white and red flag, posing for photographs with each other.


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 21 Jun 1998
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