Thu | Feb 2, 2023

At World Cup, US soccer scrubs Islamic emblem from Iran flag

Published:Sunday | November 27, 2022 | 7:27 AM
A US soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The federation described the move as a show of support for protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations' World Cup match Tuesday. (Instagram via AP)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The US Soccer Federation is displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, saying the move supports protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations' World Cup match Tuesday.

Iran's government reacted by accusing America of removing the name of God from their national flag.

The decision by the US Soccer Federation adds yet-another political firestorm to the Middle East's first World Cup, one which organisers had hoped would be spared of off-the-field controversies.

It also comes as the US face Iran in a decisive World Cup match, which was already freighted by the decades of enmity between the two countries and the nationwide protests now challenging Tehran's theocratic government.

The US Soccer Federation said in a statement Sunday that it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.”

The Twitter account of the US men's team displayed a banner with the squad's matches in the group stage, with the Iranian flag only bearing its green, white and red colour's. The same could be seen in a post on its Facebook and Inst gram accounts laying out the point totals so far in its group.

The US Soccer Federation displayed the official Iranian flag in a graphic showing Group B standings on its website.

The absence of the emblem comes as monthslong demonstrations have challenged Iran's government since the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by the country's morality police.

The protests have seen at least 450 people killed since they started, as well as over 18,000 arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, an advocacy group following the demonstrations.

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