(CNN) — Tyler Adams is interested in pursuing a career in sports psychology after his playing career is over, according to the US Soccer website. The captain of the United States Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) proved keenly aware of political, cultural and social sensitivities as he spoke ahead of Tuesday’s key Group B game against Iran at the World Cup. Qatar 2022.
At a press conference on Monday, an Iranian journalist told Adams that he had mispronounced the country’s name as “ee-RON” instead of “EYE-RAN.”
The 23-year-old, who plays for Leeds United in the English Premier League, immediately apologized to the reporter for his mispronunciation.
Later, the USMNT captain was pressured by the same journalist who asked him about representing the United States despite being a “country where there is so much discrimination against blacks within its own borders,” in relation to the Black Lives Matter protests that gripped the country following the death of George Floyd.
“There is discrimination everywhere you go,” replied Adams, who was born in Wappingers Falls, New York.
“One thing I’ve learned, especially from living abroad the last few years and having to fit in with different cultures and assimilate into different cultures, is that in the United States we continue to make progress every day.”
“In my case, I grew up in a white family and obviously also with a black heritage and background,” added Adams.
“Therefore, I had a little bit of different cultures, and I was able to assimilate those different cultures very easily. Not everyone has that ease and ability to do it, and obviously, it takes more time to understand it, through the education; I think it’s super important,” he said.
“Since you just educated me now on the pronunciation of your country’s name. So, yeah, it’s a process. I think as long as there’s progress, that’s the most important thing.”
Support the women of Iran
The prelude to the game on Tuesday was overshadowed by the controversy over the Iranian flag and the backdrop of internal turmoil in the country.
Iranian state media called for the United States to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup after the US Soccer Federation changed the Iranian flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.
The federation briefly displayed Iran’s national flag on its official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts without the emblem of the Islamic Republic.
A Group B qualifying graphic published on Saturday but now removed showed the Iranian flag in only its green, white and red colours.
The US federation told CNN on Sunday that it wanted to change the official flag for 24 hours to show “support for women in Iran who are fighting for their basic human rights,” but always planned to return to the original flag.
Iran’s state media reported Sunday that the United States should be immediately expelled from the tournament and suspended for 10 games for sharing a “distorted image” of the country’s flag.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk has declared that Iran is in a “full-blown human rights crisis” as authorities crack down on anti-regime dissidents.
The violence and protests, described by experts as the most important since the establishment of the clerical regime after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, have threatened the very nature of the country’s regime, which has been in power for more than 40 years.
The death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being detained by Iranian morality police, allegedly for failing to respect the country’s conservative dress code, was the trigger. Iranian security forces have unleashed a violent response.