The United States Soccer Federation angered Iran ahead of their turn Group B game on Tuesday when he displayed the country’s national flag without the Islamic Republic emblem, saying the move supported protesters in Iran.
Iranian government reacted by accusing America of removing God’s name from its national flag.
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US Soccer said in a statement on Sunday morning that it had decided to drop the official flag on social media accounts to show “its support for women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.” The USA men’s team Twitter account displayed a banner for the team’s group stage matches, with the Iranian flag sporting only its green, white and red colors. The same was seen in a post on his Facebook and Instagram accounts.
But by Sunday afternoon, the normal flag with the emblem had been reinstated in the Twitter banner and on Facebook and Instagram posts.
“We wanted to show our support for women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours,” the federation said.
Walker Zimmerman, a United States defender, said the players were unaware of the posts.
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“We didn’t know anything about the posts, but we support women’s rights,” Zimmerman said. “We’re focusing a lot on Tuesday, on the sporting side as well…I think it’s such a task-focused group, but at the same time we sympathize and we strongly believe in and support women’s rights.”
Iran’s football federation has filed a complaint with FIFA’s ethics committee, according to The Guardian. The official called for a ban.
“According to article 13 of the FIFA regulations, any person who violates the dignity or integrity of a country, a person or a group of persons will be sanctioned with a suspension of at least less than 10 matches or a specified period, or any other appropriate disciplinary measure,” a legal adviser to the Iranian Football Federation told the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
The protests in Iran since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini have become a hot spot in the country’s political issues. According to human rights activists in Iran, the protests have left at least 450 people dead and more than 18,000 arrested.
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Iranian players showed their support for protesters at home. They fell silent during the playing of the national anthem before a game against England.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.