Wednesday October 4, 2023

Pressure Intensifies As US, Iran Compete for Knockout Round Spot

  • The USMNT posted an image of the Iran flag without its emblem.
  • Iran says the United States violated FIFA rules and should be suspended 10 matches.
USMNT huddles prior to start of World Cup match
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports
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After decades of political tension between the U.S. and Iran, a new layer has been added ahead of their winner-moves-on World Cup match on Tuesday.

The group-stage finale begins at 2 p.m. ET.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Soccer Federation briefly displayed a banner on Twitter with Iran’s flag purposely altered to exclude its center emblem — a stylized representation of the word “Allah.”

The organization also included the graphic in Facebook and Instagram posts — all of which have since been deleted.

  • In a statement Sunday, the U.S. Soccer Federation said it chose to exclude the symbol for a brief period to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.”
  • There have been widespread protests in the Islamic Republic of Iran ever since the death of Mahsa Amini, who died after being arrested by Iranian morality police for wearing an “improper” hijab on Sept. 16.
  • At least 416 people have been killed in the protests, per Iran Human Rights.

In response to the U.S.’s social media posts, the Iranian Football Federation is filing a complaint with the FIFA Ethics Committee, alleging that the U.S. violated Section 13 of FIFA’s charter, which prohibits offending the “dignity or integrity of a country,” per Iran’s state-affiliated Tasnim News Agency.

High Stakes

The penalty for such an offense is a 10-match suspension — which would keep the U.S. sidelined for the remainder of the World Cup.

On Monday, the banner for the Tasnim News Agency’s Twitter page featured a group of people burning an American flag.

The USMNT is not the only organization criticizing the Iranian regime. Before the tournament, a human rights group called for FIFA to ban Iran from the competition.

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