Iran calls for US kicked out of 2022 World Cup after changing Iranian flag on social media to show support for protesters


Iran state media called for the expulsion of the United States from World Cup 2022 after the United States Soccer Federation changed the Iranian flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.

The federation had temporarily displayed the Iranian national flag on its official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts without the Islamic Republic emblem. A now-deleted Group B chart published on Saturday showed the Iranian flag wearing only its green, white and red colors.

US Soccer told CNN on Sunday it wanted to change the official flag for 24 hours to show “support for women in Iran who fight for basic human rights” but still planned to revert to the flag of Iran. origin.

The change “was a unique 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.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN it did not coordinate with US Soccer in the sports body’s decision to change the Iranian flag on its social media accounts to show support for the protesters. in Iran.

“We look forward to a peaceful and competitive game on the field. The United States continues to find ways to stand with the people of Iran in the face of state-sponsored violence against women and the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters” , the State Department told CNN.

Iranian state media reported on Sunday that the United States should be immediately expelled from the tournament and suspended for 10 games for a “distorted image” of the country’s flag.

“By posting a distorted image of the Islamic Republic of #Iran flag on its official account, the #US football team violated @FIFAcom charter, for which a 10-game suspension is the appropriate penalty,” said Tasnim, aligned with the Iranian state. wrote the news agency on Twitter on Sunday. “The #USA team should be expelled from the #WorldCup2022.”

FIFA did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Iran and the United States face off in a crucial Group B match on Tuesday.

Iran appears at this World Cup under the shadow of internal unrest. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said the country was going through a “full-fledged human rights crisis” as authorities cracked down on anti-regime dissidents.

Demonstrations, described by experts as the largest since the establishment of clerical rule after 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 failing to adhere to the country’s conservative dress code. Iranian security forces unleashed a violent response.

The latest controversy comes after a day of trouble ahead of the two teams’ Group B clash in Doha at Al Thumama Stadium.

US Soccer’s decision came the same day former United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he would try to speak with Iran manager Carlos Queiroz. to “calm things down” after Klinsmann’s comments on Iranian culture were called “outrageous”. Remarks.”

Following Iran’s 2-0 win over Wales on Friday, Klinsmann discussed Iran’s attitude towards football, which Queiroz coached, during a BBC panel discussion.

“It’s their culture and it’s their way and that’s why Carlos Queiroz, he fits very well in the Iranian national team,” Klinsmann said. “He wrestled in South America. He failed with Colombia to qualify, then he failed with Egypt to qualify as well, then he came back just before the World Cup now and guided Iran where he had already been working for a very, very long time.

“It’s not by chance. It’s on purpose. It’s part of their culture. It’s how they play and they work the referee. You’ve seen the bench always jump, always work the fourth, the linesmen and the fourth referee on the sidelines, constantly in their ears, they are constantly in your face on the pitch.

The 1990 World Cup winner continued: “It’s their culture and they kind of make you lose focus and make you lose focus and what’s really important to you.”

On Saturday, Queiroz responded to Klinsmann by a series of tweets.

“Even without knowing me personally, you question my character with typical judgment of prejudicial superiority,” Queiroz wrote. “No matter how much I may respect what you have done on the pitch, these remarks about Iranian culture, the Iranian national team and my players are a disgrace to football. No one can harm our integrity if they don’t. is not at our level, of course.

Queiroz added: “As an American/German, we understand your lack of support. No problem. And despite your outrageous remarks on the BBC trying to undermine our efforts, our sacrifices and our skills, we promise you that we will not pass judgment on your culture, roots and background and that you will always be welcome in our family.

The Iranian Football Federationin a report, asked Klinsmann to apologize and resign from his position on the Qatar 2022 technical study group with FIFA. Iran said it had asked FIFA for “immediate clarification on this matter”.

CNN has contacted FIFA for comment, but has not received a response as of press time.

On Sunday, Klinsmann told BBC Breakfast: “There was some really taken-out-of-context stuff. I’ll try to call him and calm things down. I never criticized Carlos or the Iranian bench. Some even thought I was criticizing the referee for not doing anything about their behavior on the bench.

“All I’ve described is their emotional way of doing things, which is actually admirable in a way. The whole bench lives the game. They jump up and down and Carlos is a very emotional He is constantly on the sidelines trying to give his players all his energy and direction.

The federation invited Klinsmann to visit the Team Melli camp in Doha and “for a lecture on thousand-year-old Persian culture and the values ​​of football and sport”.

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