June 16, 2014— -- When the Iranian soccer team takes the field today in the World Cup, there will be an American wearing the Iranian colors.
Steven Beitashour, a native of San Jose, Calif., is the sole American playing on the Iranian team, a choice that has drawn criticism from some, but could transcend international politics.
"I'm not there to cause any problems," Beitashour, 27, told the San Jose Mercury News before departing to Brazil. "I'm not there for any flash. I'm there for the love of the game."
Beitashour's parents are from Iran but immigrated to the U.S. He played at San Diego State and then joined Major League Soccer playing for the San Jose Earthquakes, but never competed internationally. When he did not get an invite to play for the U.S. World Cup team, he accepted Iran's offer, according to the report.
Though he told the Mercury News he understands Farsi better than he speaks it, Beitashour said he hoped to foster understanding between Iran and the U.S.
Players are allowed to play for other countries if they have a parent or grandparent from that country.
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