Iranian government blocks US’ shot at solidarity


Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Iranian player pointing to their country’s national flag before their match against Nigeria in the 2014 World Cup.

The United States soccer federation distorted the Iran flag in support of women’s rights but in response, Iran’s media team requested for the US to be expelled from the 2022 World Cup.

The US Men’s National Team (USMNT) posted a graphic of their group standings (group B) in the World Cup to their official Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram before their match on Nov. 28 against Iran.

They removed the Islamic Republic emblem from the Iranian flag in solidarity with the women in Iran and the Mahsa Amini protests.


Violence against women in Iran by Masha Rozenfeld

The USMNT said the post would be a one-time thing, as the team already took down the image and replaced it with Iran’s correct national flag.

Iran took the issue up with the organizers of the tournament and wanted FIFA to expel the USMNT from competing in the rest of the World Cup.

Iran brought up a specific FIFA regulation in section 13 stating that anyone who breaches the rule will have to face the penalties, “who offends the dignity or integrity of a country, a person or group of people through contemptuous, discriminatory or derogatory words or actions (by any means whatsoever).”

There’s controversy over this statement made by the USMNT. Even feminist groups who meet to empathize and show support for Iranian women have differentiating thoughts. 

“I believe distorting the Iran flag wasn’t the best way to support the Iranian woman because, in the end, it is their country. I think there are much better ways for the US to show their support for Iranian women’s rights than discouraging their country’s flag,” said Lisa Kibireva, Carlmont feminist club co-president.

However, others have noticed that this negative response wasn’t from the people of Iran; the citizens weren’t upset about this statement of solidarity so there wasn’t an issue on the USMNT’s part.

“I think the United States changing the Iranian flag doesn’t anger the people of Iran and the response was geared by the Iranian government. There’s a lot of conflict between Iran’s government and the US and that’s why they requested that the USMNT should be kicked out of the World Cup,” said Hossein Hatami, the president of the Carlmont soccer club. 

The post exhibits how technology-driven the current world is.

Social media can be a beneficial way for activists and bystanders to show support for unimaginable situations, like the violence against women in Iran.

A US soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic.
(Instagram/usmnt )

The USMNT used its social media platforms with more than 2.3 million followers to show its support. 

“Iranian women are most likely happy with the USMNT post because the United States are showing their support,” said sophomore Saba Rahimi.

At the end of the day, FIFA did not oblige to Iran’s efforts to kick the USMNT out of the World Cup.

Although the USMNT qualified for the round of sixteen by beating Iran with a score of 1-0, they’re now eliminated from the tournament after playing the Netherlands, settling the conflict. 

“The USMNT is now eliminated so a lot of people have moved on from controversies with the misrepresentation of Iran’s flag on a graphic,” Hatami said.