US Soccer briefly removed emblem from Iran flag to show support for protesters
The US Soccer Federation temporarily displayed Iran's national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic as a show of solidarity with protesters in Iran ahead of the two teams' World Cup clash on Tuesday.
A now-deleted graphic of the Group B standings posted on Saturday across US Soccer's official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts displayed a plain green, white and red flag.
Iran has been gripped by protests since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini's death in September while in police custody after her arrest for flouting the country's strict Islamic dress code.
The intent of the posts was to “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights”, US Soccer media officer Michael Kammarman told a news conference on Sunday. Players were not consulted on the decision to alter the flag.
The banner on US Soccer's Twitter page was also changed on Saturday to feature the flag without the emblem. It was changed back 24 hours later to the banner they had been using during the tournament.
Iran's state-affiliated Tasnim News Agency said the Iranian Football Federation will file a complaint against US Soccer to the FIFA Ethics Committee for “disrespecting the national flag” of the Islamic Republic.
Iranian leaders have accused the United States and other foreign adversaries of fomenting the protests in which Iranians from all walks of life have mounted one of the boldest challenges to the theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Washington has imposed sanctions on Iranian officials over the crackdown on protesters.
The US and Iran will face off in a decisive Group B clash with their place at the World Cup on the line, in a match which was already freighted by decades of emnity between the nations.