US accused of ‘disrespect’ over flag alteration ahead of Iran clash
The US men’s national soccer team (USMNT) has been accused of “unethical” behavior ahead of its World Cup meeting with Iran in Qatar, after displaying an altered version of the Iranian flag on social media.
America and Iran face off in a vital game at Al Thumama Stadium on Tuesday which is set to determine which of the two teams progresses to the knockout stages in Qatar.
Ahead of the match, the USMNT social media account has stirred tensions by posting a graphic of the Group B standings featuring England, Iran, the US, and Wales.
The Iranian flag is shown with its horizontal green, white, and red colors – but without the central emblem of the Islamic Republic.
The soccer federation confirmed to the media that the gesture was a show of support for the protests in Iran which emerged after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September.
The full version of the Iranian flag is shown on the USMNT’s official website, but the social media snub has angered officials in the Middle Eastern state.
A legal adviser of the Iranian Football Federation, Safia Allah Faghanpour, was quoted as saying by Iran’s Tasnim news agency that the organization was seeking action with FIFA.
“Respecting a nation’s flag is an accepted international practice that all other nations must emulate. The action conducted in relation to the Iranian flag is unethical and against international law,” Faghanpour said.
Iran’s participation at the Qatar World Cup has played out amid a barrage of questions from the Western media about the protests in the country.
Manager Carlos Queiroz has grown visibly irritated at press conferences, and confronted a BBC reporter earlier this week, demanding to know why England coach Gareth Southgate does not face questions on issues such as his country’s actions in Afghanistan.
Protests appeared in Iran following the death of Amini, who was detained by the country’s ‘morality police’ for allegedly not wearing a hijab correctly.
An autopsy later determined that Amini did not die due to physical violence, but rather from cerebral hypoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain, according to a coroner’s report.
The document specified that Amini had underlying conditions stemming from surgery on a benign brain tumor she had undergone when she was eight.
Heading into the final round of group-stage matches in Qatar, the US and Iran are both battling for a place in the last 16.
Iran opened their campaign with a 6-2 defeat to England, but bounced back with a dramatic late win against Wales on Friday.
The US has drawn both its games in Qatar thus far, playing out a 1-1 draw with Wales, followed by a goalless encounter with England.