The U.S. Men's National Team (USMNT) astonished Iranian officials when they briefly used an Iranian flag without the Islamic Republic's emblem in the middle of the banner displayed on the U.S. team's social media World Cup posts.
The USMNT released a statement that stated it planned to use the unfinished Iranian flag during the entire day in order to demonstrate “our support for the women in Iran.”
The USMNT employed an Iranian flag as a symbol of Iran during their World Cup social media posts which was only the green, white, and red-striped banner, with the symbol removed of a sword as well as four curves that represent the phrase “There is no god but GOD.” The symbol is also intended to symbolize a tulip or lotus flower. The symbol was devised in the year 1980 by an official of the Islamic Republic after the 1979 Mullah revolution that removed Iran's Shah of Iran from power, as The Daily Mail reported.
The U.S. will face Iran in a crucial match on Tues. November. 29. This game will determine which of them will go on into the next round of the World Cup. If Iran triumphs, it would take the U.S. out of the matches. However, a tie could send Iran to the next round.
Safiollah Fagahanpour, an adviser to the Iranian Football Federation, accused the U.S. of trying to make a fuss with the Iranian team through the flag-raising stunt, calling the stunt “illegal” according to FIFA rules.
“They have to be held accountable. Evidently, they are trying to influence Iran's performance against the US through this tactic,” Fagahanpour said, according to Iran's ISNA news agency.
“According to section 13 of #FIFA rules, any person who offends the dignity or integrity of a country, a person or group of people… shall be sanctioned with a suspension lasting at least ten matches or a specific period, or any other appropriate disciplinary measure,” the state-owned press Tasnim News Agency wrote on Twitter.
The agency further stated that “By posting a distorted picture of the Islamic Republic flag on Iran on its official Instagram account, the US football team has violated the FIFAcom charter for which an indefinite suspension of 10 games is the correct penalty. Team #USA must be disqualified from the World Cup in 2022.”
The USMNT stated that the indecent Iran flag was erected in order to stand as a symbol of solidarity to the protests that have hit the strictly Muslim nation following the September 16 killing of 22-year old Mahsa Amini who was killed by the so-called “morality police” for not wearing her hijab properly.
Since the death of Amini, protests have erupted throughout Iran as hundreds of people have been shot dead by the police. In the last week, there were children murdered in the city in the southwest of Izeh during protests which are now being referred to as “Bloody November” by dissidents.
It is reported that the Iranian judiciary has been passing death sentences to protesters as a desperate effort to deter people from participating in the next protest. Some of those who have been condemned have already been executed and more are expected to follow.
There have been consequences for World Cup players, too. When Iran's team decided not to perform an anthem of the Iranian national anthem during their debut appearance at the tournament, Kurdish player Voria Ghafouri was detained for his support of the protesters.
The USMNT has returned to using the correct Iranian flag following the declaration of 24 hours. All Iranian flags displayed on its social media pages are now displaying an Islamic Republic symbol at its center.