Iranian state media have called for the US to be excluded from the 2022 World Cup after the United States Football Association changed the Iranian flag on its social media platforms to show its support for protesters in Iran.
The association had temporarily displayed the Iranian national flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic on its official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. A now-deleted graphic of the Group B table released on Saturday showed the Iranian flag in only green, white and red colors.
US Soccer told CNN on Sunday that it wanted to change the official flag for 24 hours to “show support for women in Iran who are fighting for basic human rights,” but always planned to return to the original flag.
The change “was a one-off graphic,” US Soccer told CNN. “We have the main flag on our website and in other places.” The emblem is currently back on the agenda on US Soccer’s social media channels.
A State Department spokesman told CNN it did not coordinate with US Soccer in the sports federation’s decision to change the Iranian flag on its social media accounts to show its support for protesters in Iran.
“We are looking forward to a peaceful and competitive game on the field. The United States continues to find ways to support the Iranian people in the face of state-sponsored violence against women and a crackdown on peaceful protesters,” the State Department told CNN.
Iran’s state-run media reported on Sunday that the United States should be immediately kicked out of the tournament and suspended for 10 games over a “distorted image” of the country’s flag.
“By posting a distorted image of the flag of the Islamic Republic of #Iran on their official account, the #US soccer team has violated the @FIFAcom charter for which a 10-game ban is the appropriate punishment,” said the one with Iran Allied Tasnim Das wrote the news agency on Twitter on Sunday. “Team #USA should be kicked out of #WorldCup2022.”
FIFA did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Iran and the United States meet in a crucial Group B match on Tuesday. It’s a must for the USA if they want to advance to the knockout rounds.
Iran is appearing at this World Cup in the shadow of domestic turmoil. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said the country was mired in a “full-blown human rights crisis” as the authorities cracked down on anti-regime dissidents.
Protests, described by experts as the most significant since the establishment of clerical rule after the Iranian revolution of 1979, and violence have rocked Iran in recent months, threatening the very nature of the country’s regime, which has been in power for more than 40 years power is .
It was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being arrested by Iran’s vice squad, allegedly for not conforming to the country’s conservative dress code. Iranian security forces have unleashed a violent response.
The latest controversy comes after a day of trouble ahead of the two sides’ Group B clash in Doha at the Al Thumama Stadium.
US Soccer’s decision came the same day that former United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he would try to speak to Iranian manager Carlos Queiroz to “calm things down” after Klinsmann’s Comments about Iranian culture were branded as “outrageous.”
Following Iran’s 2-0 win over Wales on Friday, Klinsmann discussed Iran’s stance on the Queiroz-led football game in a BBC panel discussion.
“It’s their culture and their way of doing it and that’s why Carlos Queiroz fits in really well with the Iran national team,” said Klinsmann. “He fought in South America. He failed to qualify with Colombia, then he also failed to qualify with Egypt and then he returned just before the World Cup and led Iran where he had worked for a long, long time.
“It’s no coincidence. It’s all on purpose. That’s just part of their culture. That’s how they play it and they work the referee. You could always see the bench jump off, the fourth always working, the line judges and the fourth referee on the sidelines, always listening. They kept catching your eye on the pitch.”
The 1990 world champion continued: “That’s their culture and they kind of make you lose your focus and lose your concentration and what’s really important to you.”
Queiroz reacted to Klinsmann on Saturday a series of tweets.
“Even if you don’t know me personally, you question my character with a typical biased judgment of superiority,” Queiroz wrote. “No matter how much I can respect what you did on the pitch, those remarks about Iranian culture, the Iranian national team and my players are a disgrace to football. No one can violate our integrity if of course it is not at our level.”
Queiroz added: “As Americans/Germans, we understand your lack of support. No problem. And despite your outrageous comments about the BBC trying to undermine our efforts, sacrifices and abilities, we promise that we will not make judgments about your culture, roots and background and that you will always be welcome in our family. ”
The Football Federation of Iran issued a statement urging Klinsmann to apologize and resign from his position on the Qatar 2022 Technical Study Group at FIFA. Iran said it had “requested immediate clarification on this matter” from FIFA.
CNN has reached out to FIFA for comment but has received no response at the time of publication.
Speaking on the BBC Breakfast on Sunday, Klinsmann said: “Things have really been taken out of context. I’ll try to call him and calm things down. I never criticized Carlos or the Iranian bank. Some even thought I was criticizing the referee for not doing anything about their behavior on the bench.
“All I described was her emotional way of doing things, which in a way is admirable. The whole bank lives the game. They jump up and down and Carlos is a very emotional coach. He’s always on the sidelines, trying to give his players all his energy and direction.”
The association invited Klinsmann to visit Team Melli Camp in Doha and “to a lecture on the thousand-year Persian culture and the values of football and sport”.