Iran state media has called for the US to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup after the United States Soccer Federation changed Iran’s flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.
The federation had temporarily displayed Iran’s national flag on its official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. A now-deleted graphic of the Group B standings posted on Saturday displayed the Iranian flag only bearing its green, white and red colors.
US Soccer told CNN on Sunday that it wanted to change the official flag for 24 hours to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights” but always planned to go back to the original flag.
The change “was a one-time graphic,” US Soccer told CNN. “We have the main flag on our website and other places.” The emblem is currently back on the flag on US Soccer’s social media channels.
Iran state media reported Sunday that the United States should be immediately kicked out of the tournament and suspended for 10 games for a “distorted image” of the country’s flag.
“By posting a distorted image of the flag of the Islamic Republic of #Iran on its official account, the #US football team breached the @FIFAcom charter, for which a 10-game suspension is the appropriate penalty,” Iran state-aligned Tasnim news agency wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Team #USA should be kicked out of the #WorldCup2022.”
FIFA did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Iran and the US play each other on Tuesday in a crucial Group B match. It is a must-win tie for the US if it is to progress to the knockout stages.
Iran is appearing at this World Cup under the shadow of domestic turmoil. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Chief, Volker Turk, has said that the country is in a “full-fledged human rights crisis” as authorities clamp down on anti-regime dissidents.
Protests, referred to by experts as the most significant since the establishment of clerical rule following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and violence have rocked Iran in recent months and threatened the very nature of the country’s regime, which has been in power for more than 40 years.
It was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being detained by Iran’s morality police, allegedly for not abiding by the country’s conservative dress code. Iranian security forces have unleashed a violent response. (CNN)