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Carlos Queiroz in Iran training
Carlos Queiroz has had to field plenty of political questions during the World CupImage: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

US Soccer in hot water over Iran social media protest

November 28, 2022

Iran are threatening action with FIFA after social media posts from the US Soccer Federation depicted the national flag without the Islamic Republic's emblem. This comes ahead of the nations meeting at the World Cup.

https://p.dw.com/p/4KBqG

Iran's state-affiliated Tasnim News Agency had said the Iranian Football Federation will file a complaint to the FIFA Ethics Committee after the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) briefly posted a picture on social media of Iran's national flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic.

Ahead of the teams' crucial World Cup Group B clash, with both sides fighting for qualification to the round of 16, the US Soccer official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts displayed the altered flag in a depiction of the group standing on Saturday.

Although the post was subsequently deleted, US Soccer media officer Michael Kammarman told a press conference on Sunday that the post was intentional, adding the idea was to "show support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights."

Focus off the pitch

Iran has been gripped by protests since 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini's death in September while in police custody after she was arrested for flouting the country's strict Islamic dress code.

And, much of the focus around the Iranian team has been on their words and actions outside of football with the team opting not to sing the national anthem ahead of the opening match against England in a sign of solidarity with the protesters.

But Team Melli, as Iran's national team are popularly called, were then loudly booed by their own fans after singing ahead of their victory against Wales in the second group game.

Iran players celebrate scoring a goal
Iran can progress to the round of 16 with a draw against the US if England beat WalesImage: FADEL SENNA/AFP

The tournament in Qatar has been highly politicized for a number of teams with fans and teams highlighting the human rights, women's rights and LGBTQ abuses that many face across the world.

And, with the emotionally charged situation the Iranian team have had to navigate, United States defender Wesley Zimmerman sympathized with his opponents difficulties of playing in such an environment.

"We can't speak for them and their message. We know that they're all emotional," Zimmerman said. "They're all going through things right now, they're human. We empathize with that human emotion and completely feel for them."

Klinsmann clarifies comments on Iranian 'culture'

Meanwhile, Jurgen Klinsmann has clarified comments he made about the Iranian players' "culture" following the team's victory over Wales on Friday. 

In a studio discussion on the BBC, the former United States coach said it was part of the players' game to use tricks to turn the referee in their favor.

"That's their way of doing it. And that's why Carlos fits really well with the national team and their culture,'' said Klinsmann at the time, referring to Iran's coach Carlos Queiroz. 

Queiroz hit back on Twitter, saying: " Those remarks about Iran Culture, Iran National Team and my players are a disgrace to football."

Queiroz invited Klinsmann to visit Iran's national team camp to see for himself how much the players "love and respect'' football, but he called on the German to resign from FIFA's group because of his "outrageous remarks" first.

However, Klinsmann has sought to put the matter to bed, also taking to the social media platform to clarify that his comments were "football related" and not an attack on the players.

km/jt (reuters/ap)

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