Women playing polo, National Women's Dragon Boat Team practicing in Esfahan, and Zur Khune (The house of Strength)
By far the most popular sport in Iran is football (or soccer as it is known in the US). Iranian fans and the Iranian National Team (team melli), which beat the US in 1998, were very excited about the Iranian participation in the FIFA soccer world cup in Germany in 2006, but politics entered the game. There were calls, for example by US Senator John McCain, for banning Iran from the cup – comparing Iranians to Nazis. A German newspaper ran a cartoon showing the Iranian players with suicide bombs (there never has been an Iranian suicide bomber outside the country), there was protest in and outside the stadium against the Iranian president and Iranian nuclear policies.
Iran and US soccer national teams faced each other in World Cup 1998 in France, finishing with a 2-1 win for Iran. Bellow is a short documentary about the re-match of that game in Los Angles on invitation of the US National Soccer Team.
When the US Wrestling Team went to Iran for the Persian Gulf Cup in 2007, they were welcome with flowers and celebrated by the Iranian audience. In 1998 the US Wrestling Team was the first American sports team to compete in Iran after the revolution. In that tournament 12,000 fans in Tehran erupted in applause as the US wrestlers waved the Iranian flag after winning the silver medal.
Zur Khune or 'House of Strength' is a location to perform Varzesh Bastani, an ancient work-out for men that is accompanied by rhythmic chants and drum beat. Following is a short video about the history of this tradition in Iran.