WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The U.S. Soccer Federation used a doctored Iran flag in their social media posts to show solidarity with Iranian women.
- Iran’s soccer federation said using the wrong flag violated a FIFA regulation and called for the U.S. to be kicked out of the World Cup.
- The American federation has since deleted the original posts and used the correct Iran flag thereafter.
Representatives of Iran’s soccer federation called on FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, to kick out the United States team from this year’s World Cup for social media posts that “disrespected” Iran’s flag.
On Saturday, the U.S. Soccer Federation shared two social media posts that showed an Iranian flag without the country’s official emblem and Islamic script. A spokesperson said that they used the doctored flag intentionally as a show of support for Iranian women who have been protesting in their home country and in World Cup matches.
Iran claimed that using the incorrect flag violates a FIFA regulation. The cited rule penalizes anyone “who offends the dignity or integrity of a country, a person or group of people through contemptuous, discriminatory or derogatory words or actions (by any means whatsoever).”
FIFA has yet to respond, but it is unlikely that it will intervene during the tournament.
The Iran soccer federation’s legal adviser, Safia Allah Faghanpour, stated, “Respecting a nation’s flag is an accepted international practice that all other nations must emulate. The action conducted in relation to the Iranian flag is unethical and against international law.”
Tasnim News, which is listed on Twitter as Iran state-affiliated media, reported on the adviser’s statements. Several social media users called out the news agency for its profile, which shows an image of a burning American flag.
Iran’s presence in the tournament has already prompted protests from attendees and players. Fans who carried Iran’s prerevolutionary flag to matches were not allowed to bring it inside. Iran’s players themselves refused to sing their national anthem for their opening game, but after mixed praise and criticism, they seemed to begrudgingly comply for their next match.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Soccer Federation, who requested to remain anonymous, said that FIFA has not contacted the federation about the social media posts in question. They said that they conducted multiple internal discussions on Sunday, after which they decided to delete the two posts and use Iran’s official flag henceforth.
The spokesperson noted that the team’s players and coach, Gregg Berhalter, were not part of the decision to use the incorrect flag nor to remove it.
The U.S. team is set to play against Iran in a crucial game on Tuesday, 2 p.m. ET. A loss could potentially lead to elimination from this year’s World Cup.
Source: The New York Times