Prior to the two countries’ World Cup match on Tuesday, the U.S. soccer association temporarily flashed Iran’s national flag on social media without the Islamic Republic of Iran’s logo, claiming that the action supported Iranian demonstrators.
The Iranian administration responded by charging the United States with erasing the name of God from their flag.
The U.S. Soccer Federation’s decision adds another another political controversy to the Middle East’s inaugural World Cup, which its organisers had thought would be free of off-the-field disputes.
It also occurs during a crucial World Cup match between the United States and Iran, which is already complicated by the long-standing animosity between the two nations and the widespread protests currently against Tehran’s theocratic leadership.
In a statement released early on Sunday, the U.S. Soccer Federation stated that it had chosen to remove the national flag from its social media profiles in solidarity of Iranian women who are fighting for fundamental human rights.
The Iranian flag only had its green, white, and red colours displayed on the U.S. men’s team Twitter account banner with the team’s matches in the group stage. The same was evident in a post on its Facebook and Instagram feeds that listed the group’s current point totals.
By Sunday afternoon, as interest in it mounted, the standard flag with the symbol had been reinstated in the Twitter banner.
The federation stated, “We wanted to show our solidarity for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours.
On its website, the U.S. Soccer Federation featured an image of the official Iranian flag alongside the Group B standings.
The brief absence of the insignia coincides with months of protests against the Iranian government following the death on September 16 of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been held by the nation’s morality police.
According to Human Rights Activists in Iran, an advocacy group monitoring the protests, at least 450 people have died and more than 18,000 have been detained during the demonstrations.
An inquiry from The Associated Press for comment was not answered by Iran’s UN delegation or its soccer federation. Iranian state media said that the U.S. federation had “removed the sign of Allah” from the Iranian flag as online debate erupted.
According to Safiollah Fagahanpour, an advisor to the Iranian Football Federation, “actions made respecting the Islamic Republic of Iran flag are against the law” of FIFA events, according to Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency.
They need to be held accountable, said Fagahanpour. By doing this, they are undoubtedly trying to influence Iran’s performance against the United States.
The 1980 design for the Islamic Republic’s flag features four curves with a sword in the centre. There is only one God, according to Islamic teachings. It also has lotus or tulip characteristics.
There are 22 “God is Great” inscriptions on the flag’s top and bottom in recognition of the day on the Persian calendar when the Islamic Revolution began.
At the World Cup, the flag has grown to be a contentious issue. It appears that pro-government supporters have waved it and yelled at the mourners of Amini. A symbol of Iran’s late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, other fans have waved the lion and sun flag during games.
Added security personnel were visible at Iran’s most recent game versus Wales. After Wales’ victory, anti-riot police in Tehran’s capital city—the same ones putting a stop to protests—flaunted the Iranian flag, infuriating protesters.