There are no numbers opposite the Home and Visitors slots on the scoreboard. But the teams laboring on the basketball court are engaged in a battle that has pitted Iranian against Iranian as has little else since the revolution triumphed more than a year ago.
Their task is to verify the much disputed results of the first round of parliamentary elections that have given rise to charges and countercharge of fraud and vote-rigging.
Under the watchful eye of armed Revolutionary Guards, men and women take turns around-the-clock bending over an adding machine placed on tables on the court and checking votes in the ballot boxes against an earlier tally.
"If Mr. [Hassan] Habibi, [spokesman for the Revolutionary Council], has no votes, we are suspicious since he is a famous man," said Abol Ghassam Sharifian, a mathematics professor who runs the Tehran verification center. "If a relative unknown has a thousand votes, we think there is a mistake."
The vote-rigging charges are so widespread that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has been forced to defend the voting procedures and authorize the ruling Revolutionary Council to appoint a seven-man commission to investigate, and, if necessary, order new partial elections.
That commission has one month to complete its work, thereby postponing a firm date for the runoff elections required to settle approximately two-thirds of the 270 parliamentary seats.
At this point, it is impossible to fix an exact date for the final results, much less the convening of parliament.
Khomeini has empowered the new parliament to settle the fate of the American hostages and even the right-wing clerical Islamic Republican Party, which favors putting the Americans on trial, insists that it is up to parliament to decide.
The best guess is that it will be early June before parliament gets around to the hostages.
Each new delay in announcing the election results only encourages public distrust in the election process.
Since the first-round voting ended two weeks ago, scarcely a day has passed without politicians and others promising definitive results -- within days, within a week, and now this weekend.
Had they bothered to consult Sharifian, he would have told them they were wide-eyed optimists and would have explained why the Tehran first-round results would take an estimated 25 days to check.
Basically, it is a problem of manpower.
As of today, his team of 90 statisticians had checked only 1.1 million votes for 1,197 of the capital's 2,140 polling stations.
Covered in cotton and sealed with red wax, the cardboard ballot boxes are brought in from all over the city, and opened one by one. Then the two tally sheets inside each box are checked against each other.
Blowing the dust off a tally sheet, Sharifian pointed to the case of a relatively unknown candidate who, instead of picking up token support was running well ahead of the established front runner. That was enough to cause his counters to break open the tied ballot bundles and count them again -- one by one.
Sharifian was dressed in a well-cut suit and tie, despite the revolution's penchant for no necktie. He bristled when asked about the widespread cheating charges.
Most complaints are not serious, he said. "I'm sure that most people are satisfied. It's just Mr. Rajavi and his friends who are not."
Massoud Rajavi is the leader of the left-wing Mujaheddin, a major underground guerrilla force that fought the shah and, since the revolution, has attracted many middle-class, Western-oriented followers. Rajavi has presented an impressive number of documented cases of alleged fraud to President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr.
Sharifian admits, however, that the city-wide constituency system and massive number of candidates and massive number of candidates facing largely illiterate voters has made vote counting difficult.
"We asked the Tehran University computer center," he said. "They said it would take two months to program a ballot and be very expensive."
In retrospect, it may have been a cheap price to pay for avoiding the general public disillusionment which has ensued.
As of two days ago, five polling stations had yet to deliver their sealed ballot boxes to the basketball court, a failing which Sharifian did not question. Changing from one ink to another in mid-ballot also did not arouse his suspicion, since voters were required to write the names of their choices.
But a change in hand writing on the same ballot was grounds for concern: Many voters did not exercise their right to make a full 30 choices and thus an unscrupulous hand could have written in his own favorites.
Sharifian insisted that the pollwatchers were the real line of defense against cheating, a claim disputed by many on grounds that dissident party workers often had been driven out of polling stations.
Nor did he have a ready answer to charges that the clerical Islamic Republican Party had used the identity papers of dead Iranians to add to their tallies.
"They say there are only 1.5 million eligible voters in Tehran," Sharifian said, "but I am convinced there are close to 2.3 million and that 95 percent of the eligible voters in fact did vote."
Asked if he regretted overseeing the parliamentary election results, Sharifian smiled and replied, "No, we did it because of our ideal -- Islam." sPanama rather than risk extradition proceedings there brought by the Iranian authorities.
MacBride said he had been invited by Bani-Sadr after the departure of the U.N. commission from Tehran and before the shah's flight to Egypt.
He expected to confer with Bani-Sadr before flying back to Europe Monday.
Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh pointedly signaled his disapproval of MacBride's presence by saying that neither he nor the ruling Revolutionary Council planned to meet him since the visit was private.
The foreign minister's remarks suggested at least a tactical difference with Bani-Sadr. Although long personal rivals, the two men worked together on the U.N. commission plan.
The Associated Press reported:
Meanwhile, a prominent Iranian clergyman, Hojatoleslam Ali Khamenei, said in a sabbath sermon at Tehran University that Iran would "certainly" try the hostages, "in order to endure the extradition of the shah." Ghotbzadeh said Wednesday that the Americans at the embassy would not be tried.
Khamenei also called Egyptian President Anwar Sadat an "agent of the United States" for granting the overthrown monarch permanent sanctuary.
Tehran Radio quoted Ghotbzadeh as saying that the Soviet Union wants direct negotiations with Iran about the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. The radio broadcast, monitored in London, said Ghotbzadeh told Iran's official Pars news agency that the invitation was conveyed by the Soviet ambassador during talks in Tehran.
"We demanded that the issue of Afghanistan be solved in a peaceful manner," Ghotbzadeh was quoted as saying. "During these talks, it was confirmed that the government of Iran believes that the issue of Afghanistan cannot be solved without direct and proper negotiations with the revolutionaries in Afghanistan."