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Cablegate: Turkmenistan: Iran 3, U.S. 0, Sportsmanship

VZCZCXRO5000
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBC RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDE RUEHDF RUEHDIR RUEHIK
RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAH #1355 2880856
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 140856Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1706
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4399
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2211
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2076
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL PRIORITY 2647
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ASHGABAT 001355

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN AND NEA/IR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SOCI IR TX
SUBJECT: TURKMENISTAN: IRAN 3, U.S. 0, SPORTSMANSHIP
PREVAILS

1. Embassy Ashgabat played the Iranian Embassy team on
October 11 in a 30-minute soccer match during the first round
of a diplomatic tournament organized by the Embassy of
Kazakhstan. Team U.S.A. was made up of the DATT, RSO, GUNNY
and 2 MSG, CAO, and a Nevada National Guard representative.
We noted that the Iranian team was considerably younger; many
of their players looked about 17 or 18 years old, likely the
dependents of embassy staff. They also had a professional
looking and sounding coach who shouted instructions to the
players.

2. Although Iran ultimately prevailed 3 to 0, the atmosphere
of friendliness and good sportsmanship dominated throughout
the match. Several of our players noted how excited the
Iranians seemed to be playing the U.S. team: The family
members, who had sat off to the side during their first two
matches in the morning, stood close to the field taking
pictures as the two teams stood in line before their match.
One player said they all seemed "almost giddy" about it. On
several occasions, when players from either side tripped and
fell, members of the opposing team helped them up. And when
Team U.S.A.'s goalie (RSO) intercepted three goals in a row,
the Iranian side cheered for him. Iran's ambassador,
Mohammad-Reza Forqani, who also played, sided with the U.S.
team's position when the referee mistakenly took five minutes
away from the first period (the missing minutes were later
reinstated).

3. At the conclusion, both sides shook hands, and as our team
headed to the parking lot, a vehicle full of Iranian players
and family members waved good-bye.

4. COMMENT: Few words were exchanged during the soccer match,
but the atmospherics were hard to miss: It was clear that the
Iranians were excited to be playing the U.S. And the U.S.
team was happy to have kept our opponents to three goals.
END COMMENT.
CURRAN

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