Geopolitical rival Iran and the United States were drawn in Group B for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which is set to take place this November.
Similar views were echoed by Iran’s Croatian coach, Dragan Skocic.
“I don’t care about this. Of course there is a story, but we are focused on the playing,” Skocic said, adding that he hopes that “football makes a good contact and good relationship between people and that is what people expect of sport.”
However, Ali Vaez, Crisis Group’s Iran Project Director said a team is looking into the potential outcome of the game in Qatar later this year.
“A US interagency working group has been set up in advance of the Iran game to determine if their offence can be deterred, the scope of follow-on negotiations in the event of a draw, and whether exchanging jerseys violates sanctions,” Vaez wrote.
During the last World Cup in Russia four years ago, the US failed to qualify while Iran only got as far as the group stages.
England are also in Group B and Gareth Southgate’s side may come up against neighbours Wales or Scotland. Ukraine, currently facing a brutal Russian invasion, could also take the last spot in the European play-offs, though that is to be decided in June.