US Soccer briefly scrubs emblem from Iran flag at World Cup

Nov 26, 2022, 8:51 AM | Updated: Nov 28, 2022, 12:58 am
Tim Ream of the United States points to his hair bun after calling himself and teammate Walker Zimm...

Tim Ream of the United States points to his hair bun after calling himself and teammate Walker Zimmerman "the bun brothers" during a press conference before a team practice at Al Gharafa SC Stadium, in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

              Tim Ream of the United States points to his hair bun after calling himself and teammate Walker Zimmerman "the bun brothers" during a press conference before a team practice at Al Gharafa SC Stadium, in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
            
              A U.S. soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The federation described the move as a show of support for protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations' World Cup match Tuesday. The federation said in a statement Sunday that it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.” (Instagram via AP)
            
              A U.S. soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The federation described the move as a show of support for protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations' World Cup match Tuesday. The federation said in a statement Sunday that it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.” (Instagram via AP)
            
              A U.S. soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The federation described the move as a show of support for protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations' World Cup match Tuesday. The federation said in a statement Sunday that it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.” (Instagram via AP)
            
              A U.S. soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The federation described the move as a show of support for protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations' World Cup match Tuesday. The federation said in a statement Sunday that it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.” (Instagram via AP)
            
              A U.S. soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The federation described the move as a show of support for protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations' World Cup match Tuesday. The federation said in a statement Sunday that it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.” (Instagram via AP)
            
              A U.S. soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The federation described the move as a show of support for protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations' World Cup match Tuesday. The federation said in a statement Sunday that it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.” (Instagram via AP)
            
              A U.S. soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The federation described the move as a show of support for protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations' World Cup match Tuesday. The federation said in a statement Sunday that it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.” (Instagram via AP)
            
              An Iran team supporter cries as she holds a shirt that reads 'Mahsa Amini' prior to the start of the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              A soccer fan holds a flag from Iran prior to the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan , Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
            
              Two anti-riot police officers wave the Iranian flags during a street celebration after Iran defeated Wales in Qatar's World Cup, at Sadeghieh Sq. in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Iran's political turmoil has cast a shadow over Iran's matches at the World Cup, spurring tension between those who back the team and those who accuse players of not doing enough to support the protests that started Sept. 16 over the death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of the morality police. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The U.S. Soccer Federation briefly displayed Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, saying the move supported protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations’ World Cup match Tuesday.

Iran’s government reacted by accusing America of removing the name of God from its national flag.

The USSF decision added yet-another political firestorm to the Middle East’s first World Cup, one organizers had hoped would be spared of off-the-field controversies.

It occurred as the U.S. prepared to face Iran in a decisive World Cup match already freighted by the decades of enmity between the countries and the nationwide protests challenging Tehran’s theocratic government.

The USSF said in a statement Sunday morning it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.”

The Twitter account of the U.S. men’s team displayed a banner with the squad’s matches in the group stage, with the Iranian flag only bearing its green, white and red colors. The same was seen in a post on its Facebook and Instagram accounts laying out the point totals so far in its group.

By Sunday afternoon, the normal flag with the emblem had been restored in the Twitter banner and the Facebook and Instagram posts with the altered flag had been removed.

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

Federation spokesman Neil Buethe would not say whether the original decision had been cleared by USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone, a former national team player. Buethe said Parlow Cone was not available to discuss the matter.

“This was a decision within the federation,” he said. “I’m not going to get into who knew and who didn’t.”

Asked whether there had been discussions with diplomatic entities, Buethe said: “There have been at certain times. I’m not going to talk about those, but, again, this is our decision not anyone else’s or pressure from anyone else.”

The USSF displayed the official Iranian flag in a graphic showing Group B standings on its website.

Defender Walker Zimmerman said the U.S. players were unaware of the posts.

“We didn’t know anything about the posts but we are supporters of women’s rights,” he said. “We’re focused a lot on Tuesday, on the sporting side, as well. … I think it’s such a focused group on the task but at the same time we empathize and we are firm believers in women’s rights and support them.”

The brief absence of the emblem came as monthslong demonstrations challenged Iran’s government following the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by the country’s morality police.

The protests have seen at least 450 people killed since they started, as well as over 18,000 arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, an advocacy group following the demonstrations.

Iran has not released casualty or arrest figures for months and alleges without providing evidence that the protests have been fomented by its enemies abroad, including the U.S.

Tehran also restricts media access and has detained over 63 reporters and photographers since the demonstrations began, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, making covering the unrest that much more difficult.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations and its soccer federation did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press. As comments raged online, Iranian state television described the U.S. federation as “removing the symbol of Allah” from the Iranian flag.

Iran’s semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Safiollah Fagahanpour, an adviser to the Iranian Football Federation, saying that the “measures taken regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran flag are against the law” of FIFA competitions.

“They must be held responsible,” Fagahanpour said. “Obviously they want to affect Iran’s performance against the U.S by doing this.”

The Islamic Republic emblem, designed in 1980, is four curves with a sword between them. It represents the Islamic saying: “There is no god but God.” It also resembles a tulip or lotus.

At the top and the bottom of the flag, there are 22 inscriptions of “God is Great” as well, which honors the date on the Persian calendar when the Islamic Revolution took hold.

The flag has become a point of contention at the World Cup. Apparent pro-government supporters have waved it, shouting at those demonstrating over Amini’s death. Others at matches have waved Iran’s lion and sun flag, an emblem of its former ruler, the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

More security forces could be seen at Iran’s last match against Wales. In the capital Tehran, anti-riot police — the same ones cracking down on protests — waved the Iranian flag after the Wales win, angering demonstrators.

___

AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

___

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ransomware attacks in Europe target old VMware, agencies say

ROME (AP) — Cybersecurity agencies in Europe are warning of ransomware attacks exploiting a 2-year-old computer bug as Italy experienced widespread internet outages. The Italian premier’s office said Sunday night the attacks affecting computer systems in the country involved “ransomware already in circulation” in a product made by cloud technology provider VMware. A Friday technical […]
16 hours ago
Lizzo arrives at the 65th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Los Angeles. (Photo by J...
Associated Press

Lizzo wows in orange, Doja Cat dons black Latex at Grammys

NEW YORK (AP) — Lizzo wowed in a bright orange Dolce & Gabbana robe adorned with flowers and a huge hood as the wild and wacky Grammys red carpet did not disappoint Sunday. Tattered streetwear, T-shirts and denim mixed with blinged-out couture, wild patterns and plenty of skin. Lizzo walked gingerly as she navigated a […]
16 hours ago
Viola Davis accepts the award for best audio book, narration, and storytelling recording for "Findi...
Associated Press

‘Viola Davis’ Grammy win for audiobook makes her an EGOT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Viola Davis has achieved EGOT status. The actor won a Grammy Award Sunday for best audio book, narration, and storytelling recording for her memoir “Finding Me.” “I just EGOT!” she shouted from the stage as she accepted the trophy, using the term for the rare person who’s won an Emmy, Grammy, […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

One killed and four injured at rap concert in Arkansas

NEWPORT, Ark. (AP) — One person is dead and four others injured following a shooting at a rap concert in Newport, Arkansas, early Sunday, police told KAIT-TV in Jonesboro. A 19-year-old woman was killed and four people were injured in the attack, which occurred during a Fredo Bang performance around 2:30 a.m., the television station […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Teen fatally shot at fair in Florida county known for rodeos

ARCADIA, Fla. (AP) — A teenager was fatally shot at a county fair in a rural part of Florida known for its annual rodeos, authorities said Sunday. The Arcadia Police Department said in a statement that the shooting of the 17-year-old boy at the DeSoto County Fair on Saturday appeared to be an isolated incident […]
2 days ago
FILE - Remembrances of Michael Jaramillo, the 11-year-old killed on the Raging River ride at Advent...
Associated Press

Ride at Iowa amusement park where boy died will never reopen

ALTOONA, Iowa (AP) — The ride at an Iowa amusement park where an 11-year-old boy was killed in 2021 will never reopen, the park’s owners said. Bill Lentz, Adventureland’s general manager, said in a letter posted on the park’s website Friday that after spending months reviewing the safety of the Raging River ride, officials decided […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
US Soccer briefly scrubs emblem from Iran flag at World Cup