Tyler Adams is interested in pursuing sports psychology once his playing career is over, according to the US Soccer website, and the US Men’s National Team’s (USMNT) captain showed he’s acutely aware of political, cultural and social sensitivities as he spoke ahead of Tuesday’s key Group B match against Iran at the 2022 World Cup.
In a media conference on Monday, Adams was told by an Iranian journalist that he had been pronouncing the country’s name incorrectly – “ee-RON” not “EYE-RAN.”
The 23-year-old, who plays for English Premier League team Leeds United, apologized for his mispronunciation to the journalist.
The USMNT captain was then pressed by the same journalist about representing the US despite it being a “country that has so much discrimination against Black people in its own borders” in light of the Black Lives Matter protests which gripped the country in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.
“There’s discrimination everywhere you go,” replied Adams, who was born in Wappingers Falls, New York.
“One thing that I’ve learned, especially from living abroad in the past years and having to fit in in different cultures and kind of assimilate into different cultures, is that in the US, we’re continuing to make progress every single day.
“Growing up for me, I grew up in a White family, and with obviously an African-American heritage and background as well,” added Adams.
“So, I had a little bit of different cultures, and I was very easily able to assimilate in different cultures. Not everyone has that ease and the ability to do that, and obviously, it takes longer to understand, and through education, I think it’s super important.
“Like you just educated me now on the pronunciation of your country. So, yeah, it’s a process. I think as long as you see progress, that’s the most important thing.”
‘Support for the women in Iran’
The prelude to Tuesday’s game has been overshadowed by controversy over Iran’s flag and the backdrop of the country’s domestic turmoil.
Iranian state media called for the US to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup after the United States Soccer Federation changed Iran’s flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.
The federation had temporarily displayed Iran’s national flag on its official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts without the emblem of the Islamic Republic.
A now-deleted graphic of the Group B standings posted on Saturday displayed the Iranian flag only bearing its green, white and red colors.
US Soccer told CNN on Sunday that it wanted to change the official flag for 24 hours to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights” but always planned to go back to the original flag.
Iran state media reported Sunday that the United States should be immediately kicked out of the tournament and suspended for 10 games for a “distorted image” of the country’s flag.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Chief, Volker Turk, has said that Iran is in a “full-fledged human rights crisis” as authorities clamp down on anti-regime dissidents.
Protests, referred to by experts as the most significant since the establishment of clerical rule following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and violence have rocked Iran in recent months and threatened the very nature of the country’s regime, which has been in power for more than 40 years.
It was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being detained by Iran’s morality police, allegedly for not abiding by the country’s conservative dress code. Iranian security forces have unleashed a violent response.