The world cup is over and we are left with memories of the games and the excitement we all experienced. It felt great to see the team from the country we left behind twenty years ago beat the U.S. team. Even for many of us who are now U.S. citizens, this was a victory we longed for. We felt as Iranians we had to prove to the world we are a worthy opponent, that we can beat them in their field and at their own game. After all soccer is a game invented in the west. I also enjoyed the games because of the unity they created among Iranians. For the first time in twenty years, most of us felt this was our team and we shared its victories and defeats. The last time we felt this close was perhaps during the final days of the Iran and Iraq war, except that, it was hardship, sorrow and despair that brought us together. The irony is that both joy and sorrow cause the same social response among us.
The price we paid for feeling united during Iran-Iraq war was ten long years of torment filled with the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, destruction of many cities and expenditure of billions of dollars. This time around the price was much less and the experience was filled with joy and pride. The price included round trip airfare and accommodations in France. There was an additional cost of generous bonuses that the Iranian team members received. It consisted of $1000 for the first game and $7,000 for beating the U.S. team. We can only hope this generosity do not brake the back of Iranian government fiscal operating budget!
People provided the support that our team deserved every day. This was not planned by the government or any big corporation or special interest group. The people took it upon themselves to support their team and the rest was history. This seems to become the long waited trend among us Iranians. We have learned to recognize what is best for us and we act on them ourselves.
What is going to be the next occasion that unites us as a nation? I hope it will be a joyful and positive event, a grass-root event that is not orchestrated for political benefits of any single group or ideology, one that helps advance Iran and all of us to the next millennium.