Ahead of the historic match between Iran and the US in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, US Soccer federation briefly removed Islamic symbol from Iran’s flag, for which the US coach later apologized.
It was this Sunday night and less than two days to Iran-US football match in Qatar that the U.S. Soccer Federation briefly displayed Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, a move that was, in the eyes of Iranian officials, a disrespect to the Iranian flag.
This Tuesday night, Iran and the US will play against each other in a crucial Group B match. It is a life-and-death competition mostly for the US footballers if they are to advance to the knockout stages. But this match can also be described as the most political game between Iran and the United States due to the long history of rivalry between the two countries.
Since 1979 Islamic Revolution and the renunciation of US values by the new rulers in Iran, the US has been moving in a path of total hostility with Iran, targeting the country with crippling sanctions for various reasons.
For example, Washington has imposed many sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, claiming that Iran may want to build nuclear weapons. This is while even US intelligence agencies have maintained several times that Iran is not trying to build an atomic bomb.
Tuesday’s football match is on the way as Iran is still scene to domestic protests in a number of its cities. And the US has restored to many tools to support the protestors, a stance that Iran considers as intervention in Iran’s domestic affairs.
The protests in Iran were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died allegedly after being detained by Iran’s morality police for breaking the Hijab law.
Iran reacted to Washington’s provocative move
In reaction to the disrespect by the US Soccer federation to Iran’s national flag, Iran called on FIFA to kick out the US football team of the 2022 World Cup and also suspend it for 10 games for a “distorted image” of Iran’s national flag.
“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,” Iran state-aligned Tasnim news agency wrote on Twitter on Sunday, noting also that “Team #USA should be kicked out of the #WorldCup2022.”
In addition, the legal advisor of the Iranian Football Federation said Monday that the sports association will file a complaint against the US Soccer Team to FIFA’s Ethics Committee for “disrespecting the national flag” of the Islamic Republic.
US coach apologized for the politically-motivated flag removal
Iran’s threats finally worked out well for the country and made US football coach Gregg Berhalter to make a statement this Monday and apologize for the move, saying that his team was unaware of posts by the soccer federation. The posts were subsequently deleted.
“Sometimes things are out of our control,” Berhalter said. “We’re not focused on those outside things and all we can do is apologize on behalf of the players and the staff, but it’s not something that we were a part of. We had no idea what US Soccer put out. The staff, the players, we had no idea. For us our focus is on this match and I don’t want to sound aloof, or we’re not caring by saying that.” He added.