U.s. Soccer Momentarily Adjusts Iranian Flag in Show of Sympathy for Demonstrators

Iranian Flag in Show of Sympathy for Demonstrators: Two anti-riot police officers can be seen waving the Iranian flag at Sadeghieh Square amid a street celebration following Iran’s victory over Wales in the World Cup match that was hosted in Qatar. The match took place in Qatar.

Demonstrators’ Flag from Iran, Displayed in Support

Before Tuesday’s World Cup match, the U.S. Soccer Federation temporarily flashed Iran’s flag on social media without the Islamic Republic’s symbol to encourage Iranian demonstrators. Iran’s leadership retaliated by accusing America of removing the name of God from its national flag. The USSF decision sparked another political controversy during the Middle East’s first World Cup, something organizers had sought to avoid. It occurred as the U.S. prepared to face Iran in a key World Cup match already freighted by the decades of hatred between the countries and the widespread rallies threatening Tehran’s theocratic leadership.

“Support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights” led the USSF to remove their flag from social media Sunday morning. The Twitter account of the U.S. men’s team presented a banner depicting the squad’s matches in the group stage, with the Iranian flag solely wearing its green, white and red colors. The same was observed in a post on its Facebook and Instagram feeds putting out the point totals thus far in its group. By Sunday afternoon, the Twitter banner had the usual flag with the symbol, and the Facebook and Instagram postings with the changed flag were gone.

“We wanted to encourage Iranian women with our graphic for 24 hours,” the organization added. Federation spokesperson Neil Buethe did not clarify whether the initial decision had been authorized by USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone, a former national team player. Buethe stated Parlow Cone was not accessible to address the subject. “This was a decision inside the federation,” he stated. “I won’t discuss who knew and who didn’t.”

Asked whether there had been contacts with diplomatic entities, Buethe said: “There have been at various periods. I’m not going to talk about those, but, again, this is our decision not someone else’s or pressure from anyone else.” The USSF showed the official Iranian flag in a graphic showing Group B standings on their website. Defender Walker Zimmerman claimed U.S. players were unaware of the postings.

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Iranian Flag in Show of Sympathy for Demonstrators
“We support women’s rights but didn’t know about the posters,” he stated. “Sports-wise, we’re focusing on Tuesday. It’s a concentrated organization, yet we empathize and support women’s rights.” After the morality police killed 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16, months of protests challenged Iran’s administration. Human Rights Activists in Iran, an organization monitoring the protests, reports at least 450 deaths and over 18,000 arrests.

Iran has not revealed fatality or arrest data for months and claims without evidence that its opponents, including the U.S., incited the protests.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Tehran has jailed over 63 journalists and photographers since the protests began, making coverage harder.
The Associated Press received no response from Iran’s UN delegation or soccer federation. Iranian state media called the U.S. federation “removing the sign of Allah” of the Iranian flag amid internet outrage.

Safiollah Fagahanpour, an Iranian Football Federation consultant, told ISNA that “actions made respecting the Islamic Republic of Iran flag are outside the regulations” of FIFA competitions. Fagahanpour demanded accountability. “They seek to influence Iran’s performance versus the U.S.” The 1980 Islamic Republic insignia is four curves with a sword. “There is no deity but God” is the Islamic statement. It resembles tulips and lotuses.

The Islamic Revolution began on the Persian calendar, hence the flag has 22 “God is Great” inscriptions at the top and bottom. The flag is a World Cup issue. It’s being waved by pro-government protesters. Others have waved Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s lion and sun flag at matches. More security troops might be observed at Iran’s last match against Wales. In the capital Tehran, anti-riot police – the same ones clamping down on rallies — raised the Iranian flag after the Wales triumph, angering demonstrators.

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