The Iranian football federation is planning to file a complaint with FIFA after US Soccer deleted the Islamic Republic emblem from Iran’s flag on social media posts to show support for protesters there.
The posts were later taken down, but not before causing outrage in Iran, the NY Post reports.
The tensions have escalated ahead of Wednesday morning’s (AEDT) World Cup match between the two countries in Qatar, which will decide which squad will advance out of Group B.
US Soccer posted a graphic Saturday of the group standings on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram showing the green, white and red Iranian flag without the emblem, with a US spokesman adding the move was intended to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.”
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The Islamic Republic Emblem features four curves with a sword in the middle and represents the Islamic saying “there is no god but God.”
US Soccer added that it was a one-time display and future social media posts are expected to use Iran’s official flag, the Associated Press reported.
US Soccer also said the posts with the altered flag would be taken down, and they were deleted on Sunday morning.
Another post about Wednesday’s game featured Iran’s official flag.
“Clearly the decision we made was to show support for the women in Iran. That stands,” a U.S. Soccer spokesman told The Athletic.
“This is our decision, not anyone else’s or pressure from anyone else.”
Tasnim News, Iran’s state-affiliated media agency, reported on Sunday that the legal adviser of the Iranian Football Federation said a complaint will be filed to FIFA’s Ethics Committee requesting the U.S. team be booted from the tournament.
“According to section 13 of FIFA rules, any person who offends the dignity or integrity of a country, a person or group of people … shall be sanctioned with a suspension lasting at least ten matches or a specific period, or any other appropriate disciplinary measure,” Tasnim News Agency tweeted.
“By posting a distorted image of the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran on its official account, the US football team breached the FIFA charter, for which a 10-game suspension is the appropriate penalty. Team USA should be kicked out of the #WorldCup2022.”
At least 450 people have died and more than 18,000 have been arrested, according to human rights advocacy groups, in protests in Iran since the suspicious death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran.
Amini’s death in September came after she was detained by morality police for allegedly not wearing a hijab in violation of the country’s conservative dress code.
Iranian players refused to sing the country’s national anthem before a 6-2 loss in their first match of the World Cup last week against England, with team captain Ehsan Hajsafi saying protesters “should know that we are with them.”
The USMNT needs a victory Tuesday over Iran to advance to the Round of 16 after drawing in each of its first two matches against Wales and England.
– This article originally appeared on The New York Post and was reproduced with permission.
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