Iran complains to Fifa after US football body alters its flag ahead of World Cup clash

US Soccer Federation said removal of emblem in social media posts is to show support for Iranian women

A fan holds a flag with a message in support of protests in Iran before the World Cup match between Wales and Iran. AP
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Iran has complained to world football's governing body Fifa after the US football body altered its flag in some social media posts.

Ahead of the World Cup Qatar 2022 match between the countries at the Al Thumama in Doha on Tuesday, the US Soccer Federation posted images on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram showing Iran's flag without its usual emblem.

Iran's Tasnim News Agency said the Iranian Football Federation would be filing a complaint to Fifa's ethics committee and called for a 10-game ban for the US team.

A US Soccer Federation official said the flag was altered to show support for Iranian women.

This comes after many in the stands at Iran's match against Wales on Friday carried pre-revolutionary flags and wore clothes emblazoned with the “Women, Life, Freedom” slogan that has been a central feature of the two-month protests against Iran's regime.

Legal adviser Safia Allah Faghanpour said of the change: "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."

Iran called the US football body's social media posts "a hostile and provocative move".

A giant Iranian flag on the pitch prior to the World Cup match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, in Umm Al Afaei. Getty

A US Soccer Federation representative told The Athletic: "Clearly the decision we made was to show support for the women in Iran. That stands.

"This is our decision, not anyone else's or pressure from anyone else."

There are widespread anti-government protests in Iran sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died in custody of the morality police in September, after being detained in Tehran for wearing her hijab "improperly".

Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based non-government organisation, reported this week that at least 416 people have been killed by security forces in the nationwide protests.

More than 15,000 people are said to have been arrested, including Iran international footballer Voria Ghafouri.

Iran protests at World Cup - in pictures

Updated: November 28, 2022, 3:59 PM
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