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ART BUCHWALD

U.S. Reaches Goal Without Scoring

July 01, 1998|ART BUCHWALD

It was the most glorious day in Iran's history--even bigger than taking American hostages after the revolution. The Iranian soccer team beat the United States, 2-1, in the World Cup. According to reports, people in Tehran went crazy, shooting off guns and fireworks and honking their horns.

For most countries, winning in World Cup soccer is the next best thing to fighting in a war.

Fortunately, not many people in the United States give a damn. Soccer is not the spectator sport in this country that croquet is.

For most U.S. football fans, it's a big yawn.

It is not generally known, but the CIA has a soccer bureau devoted to ways of using the sport as a method of furthering American foreign policy.

Flip Ray Jr., the chief, told me, "Iran proves once again you can win more by losing at soccer than by sending in the 6th Fleet to nuke countries in the Middle East.

"Take the game Iran won against the United States. After it was over, the Iranians were full of joy. It was the first time they had anything good to say about our country. Here are satellite photos of Iranians crying with happiness in the streets.

"The rapprochement with Iran didn't cost us a dime if you don't count what we spent to send our team by Virgin Air."

"Then what you are saying you would like to do is send the U.S. soccer players to every country with which we are having serious problems," I said.

"Yes, provided that we lose. We want matches with North Korea, Cuba, Yugoslavia and Zaire. We want our players to throw every game as long as it will keep the peace."

"We didn't throw the game to Iran, did we?"

Flip grinned. "You don't think we couldn't beat a third-class team like the Iranians if we wanted to? Do you know how many times the Americans failed to score when they could have?"

"Oh, dear, we threw the game."

"It's top secret. We told our people in the locker room that if they threw the game against Iran, we'd let them beat Brazil."

"And they all agreed?"

"They did when they found out that if they lost all their games they would get to meet with Vice President Al Gore in Washington."

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