Iran complains to Fifa after US Soccer removes Islamic emblem from its flag

Iran’s football federation has lodged an official complaint with Fifa after the US Soccer Federation removed the Islamic Republic’s emblem from its flag in social media posts.

The US men’s team’s social media accounts displayed a banner with the squad’s Group B matches on Sunday with the Iranian flag only showing its green, white and red colours.

The USSF said in a statement to the Associated Press on Sunday the decision to remove the official flag on was to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights,” where hundreds have died protesting the theocratic regime.

The social media banners were changed a few hours later with the Islamic Republic’s emblem reinstated.

Iran’s state news agency IRNA called the move an “unprofessional act” and said the Iran Football Federation had demanded Fifa “issue a serious warning” to its US counterpart.

Iranian state television accused the US of removing Allah’s name from its flag, according to the Associated Press.

An Iranian Football Federation adviser was quoted in a local news agency as saying the “measures taken regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran flag are against the law” of FIFA competitions.

“They must be held responsible,” Safiollah Fagahanpour was quoted as saying in the ISNA news agency.

“Obviously they want to affect Iran’s performance against the US by doing this.”

On social media, outraged Iranian fans called for the USA to be kicked out of the Qatar World Cup, the first to be held in the Middle East.

An Iranian football fan at the World Cup in Qatar (Associated Press)
An Iranian football fan at the World Cup in Qatar (Associated Press)

USSF spokesman Neil Buethe refused to say whether the decision to post the altered flag had been cleared by its President Cindy Parlow Cone.

In a statement, the federation said: “We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours.”

US men’s team defender Walker Zimmerman said the players were unaware of the controversy.

“We didn’t know anything about the posts but we are supporters of women’s rights,” he said in comments to the Associated Press

“I think it’s such a focused group on the task but at the same time we empathise and we are firm believers in women’s rights and support them.”

More than 450 people have died and thousands have been imprisoned during widespread protests in Iran since the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini on 16 September.

Officials in Tehran have accused the US of inflaming the protests.

Tuesday’s Group B clash will determine whether either side progresses to the knockout stages of the tournament.