FIFA World Cup: Iran miffed over brief flag removal by US soccer on social media

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The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) had briefly showcased Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, calling the move as a sign of support to the protesters in Iran ahead of the World Cup match between the two countries on Tuesday in Qatar.

Iran’s government has accused US of removing the name of God from its national flag. The US removed the Allah symbol in graphics that were posted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The USSF said in a statement on Sunday morning 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.” The Associated Press mentions that 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.

The Iranian flag with Islamic Republic emblem was, however, restored by Sunday afternoon on Twitter account. The Facebook and Instagram posts were deleted. “We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours,” the federation said.

Read | Ayatollah Khamenei’s niece urges world to cut ties with Iran over unrest

Defender Walker Zimmerman said that U.S. players were not aware 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 move was slammed by Iran. “In an unprofessional act, the Instagram page of the US football federation removed the Allah symbol from the Iranian flag,” said Iran state news agency IRNA. The Iran Football Federation sent an email to FIFA to demand it issue a serious warning to the US federation.”

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