Los Angeles: The United States and Iran, political foes whose football teams have qualified for the 2014 World Cup, could play a friendly prior to the finals in Brazil, Fox Sports reported Wednesday.
The US news outlet cited reports circulating in the Iranian media, although US Soccer spokesman Neil Beuthe declined to confirm that the US federation had been in contact with its Iranian counterpart.
"We have been actively talking to numerous federations that have qualified for the World Cup about playing in the US in late May and early June," Beuthe said. "All of these discussions are preliminary and we do not have any matches set at this point."
Dan Gaspar, a US citizen who serves as goalkeeper coach for Iran, said in an e-mail to Fox that there was "genuine interest" on both sides for a US-Iran friendly, but that such a fixture likely wouldn't be set until after the World Cup draw on December 6.
Wednesday's report comes a fortnight after a landmark telephone call between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, the first contact between leaders of the two countries since the rupture of diplomatic relations in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Despite the strained relations between the two nations, their sports officials have been able to work together at times, including in recent efforts to keep the ancient sport of wrestling in the Olympic Games.
On the football pitch, the United States and Iran have met twice. Iran upset the United States 2-1 in the 1998 World Cup in France and played the Americans to a 1-1 draw in a football friendly in January of 2000 at Pasadena, California.