At World Cup, U.S. soccer briefly scrubs Islamic emblem from Iran flag

It also comes as the US faces Iran in the World Cup finals, which has already been plagued by decades of hostility between the two countries and nationwide protests that have challenged Tehran government of Tehran.

The US Soccer Federation said in a statement Sunday morning that it had decided to leave the official flag on social media to show “support for Iranian women fighting for basic human rights.”

The Twitter account of the US men’s team showed a banner with the team’s sports on the team stage, and the Iranian flag with its colors of green, white and red. The same can be seen in the post of its Facebook and Instagram accounts that put the total score so far in its group.

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On Sunday afternoon, the standard flag with the logo was returned to the Twitter banner as its attention increased.

“We wanted to show our support for Iranian women with our images for 24 hours,” the organization said.

The US Soccer Federation featured Iran’s official flag in a photo showing the Group B standings on its website.

The temporary absence of the signal comes after months of demonstrations challenging the Iranian government since the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained by the country’s moral police.

The protests have seen at least 450 people killed since they began, along with more than 18,000 arrested, according to Human Rights Watch in Iran, an advocacy group that monitors the protests.

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Iran’s mission to the United Nations and its soccer body did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press. As reactions ran high online, Iran’s state television described the United States’ move as “removing the symbol of Allah” from the Iranian flag.

Iran’s non-official ISNA news agency quoted Safiollah Fagahanpour, an adviser to the Iran Football Association, as saying “the measures taken regarding the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran are against the law” of FIFA competitions.

“They have to take responsibility,” Fagahanpour said. “It’s clear that they want to affect Iran’s performance against the US by doing this.”

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

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Above and below the flag, there are 22 inscriptions for “God the Great” as well, honoring the day on the Persian calendar when the Islamic Revolution began.

The flag has become a point of controversy at the World Cup. Government supporters seem to have waved it off, chanting signs of Amini’s death. Others at the games waved Iran’s lion and sun flag, the symbol of its former ruler, the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Some security forces can be seen in Iran’s final match against Wales. In the capital Tehran, anti-riot police – also known for protesting – waved the Iranian flag after Wales’ victory, angering protesters.


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