Iranian State media is calling for the U.S. to be banned from competing in the 2022 World Cup over a now-deleted social media post in which the U.S. national soccer team altered an image of the Iranian flag.
In a now-deleted tweet, the U.S. Men’s national soccer team (USMNT) posted a graphic that included a doctored Iranian national flag without the Islamic Republic emblem, which represents the Islamic saying: “There is no god but God.”
“By posting a distorted image of the flag of the Islamic Republic of #Iran on its official account, the #US football team breached the @FIFAcom charter, for which a 10-game suspension is the appropriate penalty,” Iranian state news agency Tasim wrote in a statement on Sunday. “Team #USA should be kicked out of the #WorldCup2022.”
In a statement to an Iranian news agency, Iran’s soccer federation legal adviser Safia Allah Faghanpour said that the U.S. not using the Islamic logo on Iran’s national flag is “unethical,” according to the New York Times.
“Respecting a nation’s flag is an accepted international practice that all other nations must emulate,” Faghanpour said in a statement. “The action conducted in relation to the Iranian flag is unethical and against international law.”
In a statement to CNN, the US Soccer Federation said posted the image for a 24-hour span to show support for “the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.” Images on its social media accounts returned to using the proper Iranian flag by Sunday afternoon.
USMNT defenders Tim Ream and Walker Zimmerman told ESPN their coaches and teammates had no prior knowledge of the image.
“I think it’s such a focused group on the task at hand, but at the same time we empathize, and we are firm believers in women’s rights and support them,” Zimmerman said, per ESPN.
The U.S. team is set to play Iran in their third Group B match on Tuesday, needing a win to advance to the knockout stage of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. German players cover mouths in protest at World Cup Blinken says ban on LGBTQ armbands at World Cup ‘concerning’
Iran’s government has cracked down waves of protests in recent weeks sparked by the death of a 22-year-old Iranian national Mahsa Amini. Protesters are calling for an end to violence and discrimination toward women in the country, and in some cases the overthrow of the ruling regime.
Amini died in police custody last month after being arrested by authorities for improperly wearing her hijab, which violated Iran’s strict rules on female dress codes.
Amini’s death has also garnered international attention, with countries including the U.S. condemning Iran for its treatment of women and the deadly tactics it has used to disperse demonstrators.