Iran calls for discipline after USSF scrubs emblem from flag

The US Football Association briefly displayed the Iranian national flag on social media without the Islamic Republic’s emblem, saying the move supports protesters in Iran ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup match between the two nations in Qatar.

The Iranian government responded by accusing US Soccer of removing the name of God from its national flag, and the Iranian Football Association said its country would file a complaint with FIFA over the removal of the Islamic Republic’s emblem.

“Measures regarding the Islamic Republic [the] The Iranian flag violates international law and morality and we will pursue this through the FIFA Morality Committee,” said the Football Association of Iran’s legal adviser Safia Allah Faghanpour. “They must be held accountable. Apparently they want to influence Iran’s performance vis-à-vis the US.”

Iran-affiliated media Tasnim said Sunday the US should be kicked out of the World Cup over racism after they removed the Islamic Republic emblem from the Iran team flag.

“By posting a distorted image of the flag of the Islamic Republic of #Iran on their official account, the #US soccer team has violated the @FIFAcom charter for which a 10-game ban is the appropriate punishment,” the state-affiliated agency said Tasnim said on his English-language Twitter account On Sunday. “Team #USA should be kicked out of #WorldCup2022”

The legal adviser to the Iranian football federation urged FIFA to act.

“Measures regarding the Islamic Republic [the] The Iranian flag violates international law and morality and we will pursue this through the FIFA Morality Committee,” said Safia Allah Faghanpour. “They must be held accountable. Obviously they want to influence Iran’s performance against the US.”

Tasnim also tweeted the FIFA Statutes in the call to action on Sunday.

“Pursuant to Section 13 of the #FIFA Rules, any person who violates the dignity or integrity of any country, person or group of people shall be punished with a suspension of at least ten matches or a specified period of time or any other appropriate disciplinary measure”, it said.

The US Football Association’s decision to remove the emblem adds another political firestorm to the first World Cup in the Middle East that organizers had hoped would be spared off-field controversy.

It also comes as the US faces Iran in a crucial World Cup match, already fraught with decades of enmity between the two countries and the nationwide protests now challenging Tehran’s theocratic government.

The USSF said in a statement Sunday morning that it had decided to refrain from displaying the official flag on social media accounts to “show support for the women of Iran who are fighting for basic human rights.”

The USA men’s team’s Twitter account featured a banner showing the team’s group stage matches, with the Iranian flag sporting only the colors green, white and red. The same could be seen in a post on the team’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, detailing the previous scores in his group.

On Sunday afternoon, the normal flag with the emblem was restored to the Twitter banner as attention grew on it.

“With our graphic, we wanted to show our support for women in Iran for 24 hours,” said the association.

The USSF displayed the official Iranian flag in a graphic with the Group B rankings on its website.

According to The New York Times, FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the dispute.

The brief absence of the emblem comes as months of demonstrations have challenged the Iranian government since the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the country’s vice squad.

USMNT defenders Tim Ream and Walker Zimmerman said Sunday that players and coach Gregg Berhalter had no prior knowledge that the federation would use its social channel to show support for the Iranian women’s cause.

“I think it’s such a focused group on the task at hand, but at the same time we empathize and we strongly believe in and support women’s rights,” Zimmerman said.

According to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a post-demonstration advocacy group, at least 450 people have been killed and over 18,000 arrested since the protests began.

Iran has not released casualty or arrest figures for months and claims without providing evidence that the protests were fomented by its enemies abroad, including the United States.

Tehran is also restricting access for the press and has arrested over 63 reporters and photographers since the demonstrations began, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, making reporting the unrest much more difficult.

The Iranian mission to the United Nations and its football federation did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press. As online comments raged, Iranian state television described the US federation as “removing the symbol of Allah” from the Iranian flag.

The emblem of the Islamic Republic, designed in 1980, consists of four curves with a sword between them. It represents the Islamic proverb: “There is no god but God.” It also resembles a tulip or a lotus.

There are also 22 inscriptions at the top and bottom of the flag that read “God is Great”, honoring the date in the Persian calendar when the Islamic Revolution took place.

The flag has become a point of contention at the World Cup. Apparent government supporters have waved it and shouted at the protesters over Amini’s death. Others have waved Iran’s lion and sun flag, an emblem of its former ruler, the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, at games.

More security guards were seen at Iran’s last game against Wales. In the capital Tehran, riot police – the same ones who crack down on protests – waved the Iranian flag after Wales’ victory, angering protesters.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. Iran calls for discipline after USSF scrubs emblem from flag

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