Cable speculates that soccer loss could undermine Ahmadinejad

For those not already predisposed to view everything the United States does in the world as preternaturally evil, one common reaction to the WikiLeaks cables has been relief that U.S. diplomats actually have a good sense of what is going on. As Joshua Kucera put it in an article for FP, "U.S. Foreign Service officers ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

For those not already predisposed to view everything the United States does in the world as preternaturally evil, one common reaction to the WikiLeaks cables has been relief that U.S. diplomats actually have a good sense of what is going on. As Joshua Kucera put it in an article for FP, "U.S. Foreign Service officers might not like their confidential correspondence aired in public, but overall, the cables portray them as smart and perceptive, and with no illusions about the countries they are dealing with."

But this is not universally the case. Take this cable from the Iran "regional presence office" in Dubai, signed by the office's acting director Timothy Richardson. Written several days before the June 2009 presidential election, it finds the United States hoping for the United Arab Emirates to defeat Iran in soccer, a loss that "could further weaken Ahmadinejad’s standing among soccer-crazed Iranians":

A loss to the UAE, Iran’s political and economic rival across the Strait of Hormuz, would be deeply embarrassing to Iranian national pride and could very well damage Ahmadinejad’s image in the mind of the Iranian electorate. According to contacts, Ahmadinejad “cannot afford” a loss on the eve of the election in such a tight race. Some in Iran doubt that Ahmadinejad will even make an appearance at the UAE match after he was deemed a “jinx” by superstitious fans, who linked his arrival at Azadi Stadium for Iran’s last home match against Saudi Arabia with the downturn in the game. However, Ahmadinejad has given no indication that he plans to disassociate himself from Team Melli on the verge of elimination. “Unfortunately, this sport has been afflicted with some very bad issues,” he told Iranian media on June 7. “I must intervene personally to push aside these destructive issues.”

For those not already predisposed to view everything the United States does in the world as preternaturally evil, one common reaction to the WikiLeaks cables has been relief that U.S. diplomats actually have a good sense of what is going on. As Joshua Kucera put it in an article for FP, "U.S. Foreign Service officers might not like their confidential correspondence aired in public, but overall, the cables portray them as smart and perceptive, and with no illusions about the countries they are dealing with."

But this is not universally the case. Take this cable from the Iran "regional presence office" in Dubai, signed by the office’s acting director Timothy Richardson. Written several days before the June 2009 presidential election, it finds the United States hoping for the United Arab Emirates to defeat Iran in soccer, a loss that "could further weaken Ahmadinejad’s standing among soccer-crazed Iranians":

A loss to the UAE, Iran’s political and economic rival across the Strait of Hormuz, would be deeply embarrassing to Iranian national pride and could very well damage Ahmadinejad’s image in the mind of the Iranian electorate. According to contacts, Ahmadinejad “cannot afford” a loss on the eve of the election in such a tight race. Some in Iran doubt that Ahmadinejad will even make an appearance at the UAE match after he was deemed a “jinx” by superstitious fans, who linked his arrival at Azadi Stadium for Iran’s last home match against Saudi Arabia with the downturn in the game. However, Ahmadinejad has given no indication that he plans to disassociate himself from Team Melli on the verge of elimination. “Unfortunately, this sport has been afflicted with some very bad issues,” he told Iranian media on June 7. “I must intervene personally to push aside these destructive issues.”

Grasping at straws much? In case you’re wondering, Iran won the match 1-0.

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