A representative of Iran’s football federation has called for the US to be expelled from the international football tournament after creating social media posts in “support” of protestors in Iran. The complaint, made to FIFA’s ethics committee, accuses the US of breaching rules by offending “the dignity and integrity of a country”. The controversy was sparked after the USA removed the Islamic Republic’s emblem from Iranian flags posted on the US federation’s Twitter and Facebook pages. The Americans claim the move was made to support Iranians in the country who have been protesting for the last two months.
The protests erupted after the death of the young woman Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from the Kurdish region of Iran, who died after being arrested by Iran’s ‘morality police’ for allegedly not conforming to dress codes regarding the wearing of hijabs.
Muslim women outside the country have said on social media that the morality police have distorted the hijab – a religious and profoundly spiritual symbol for so many women around the world, that the Iranian government has enforced on others alongside draconian and violent laws.
In a statement, the US federation said it wanted to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights”.
Iran’s state news agency, IRNA, said: “In an unprofessional act, the Instagram page of the US football federation removed the Allah symbol from the Iranian flag. The Iran Football Federation sent an email to Fifa to demand it issue a serious warning to the US federation.”
A spokesman for the US federation said: “It was a one-time graphic to show solidarity with the women in Iran.”
Although the post was later removed and replaced with the correct flag a USA spokesman said: “We still support the women of Iran”.
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With or without the USA’s influence, these symbols of protest have not been far away from the pitch. Iran’s football team were lorded brave heroes for refusing to sing their national anthem in Iran’s opening match against England, a game where England won 6 – 2.
And, on Friday, an Iran fan watching the match wearing dramatic makeup depicting bloody tears, had a football jersey bearing the name Mahsa Amini confiscated from the pitch.