Whitecaps defender expected to play in FIFA World Cup 2014

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As the 32 qualified teams of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil prepare to release their rosters, a right back for the Vancouver Whitecaps is on the merge of having his life long dream come true.

Steven “Mehrdad” Beitashour waits for the call that could book him a ticket to Brazil. But the 26-year-old Californian won’t be playing on the national team of the United States. Instead, Beitashour is expected to play for his parents’ homeland on the national team of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Even though Beitashour was born in San Jose, he is considered of dual-citizenship according to Iranian nationality law, as his father is Iranian. This makes him eligible to play for either the United States or Iran.

But when he played for the United States in 2012 against Mexico, Beitashour did not get any time to play. As their apparent interest in him shrunk, Iran’s interest started to grow. A year later, his chance came to play on the national team for Iran in the preliminary qualification match against Thailand for the 2015 Asian Cup.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Beitashour, when talking about playing for a national team. “It’s kind of a long time come, I was working hard for it and I appreciated the opportunity.”

Now that Beitashour is a defender for the Iranian national soccer team, fans await to see if the head coach will call him up to play in the World Cup.

Some negative comments have arisen about his choice to join Iran’s team instead of the United States. Beitashour responded by saying he is simply in it for soccer. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” he said. “To me, it’s purely about the sport.”

Iran’s new head coach Carlos Queiroz has had a long and prosperous career as the former manager for Real Madrid, assistant manager for Manchester United and has qualified both South Africa and Portugal in previous world cups. Now he is focusing on strengthening Iran, with his newest strategy of bringing in Iranian players outside the country—and Beitashour could surely be one of them.

“Obviously it’s getting close, but I’m still trying to just focus on the games at hand. I try not to get ahead of myself,” he said. Beitashour continues to play in Major League Soccer while he waits.

Beitashour had previously spent four years playing in his native city for the San Jose Earthquakes before he was switched to play for Vancouver in an undisclosed deal.

“It’s a little colder here than I expected,” he said. “But Vancouver has been treating me well and it’s been real fun.”

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Behdad Mahichi is currently an Editorial Assistant at Vancity Buzz and a journalism student at Ryerson University. He writes about anything from entertainment and politics to his misfortunately extreme caffeine addiction.
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