Iran was triggered by micro-aggressions posted online by the American World Cup soccer team and demanded that the US be kicked out of tournament play.
Was Iran outraged by disrespect toward the prophet Muhammad? No.
All that was necessary was to agree, in a very subtle way, with the many thousands of protesters within Iran’s own borders who object to the treatment Mahsa Amini received for wearing her hijab in a way that showed some of her hair.
The country’s leadership was deeply offended when, for 24 hours, the U.S. team, anticipating its match with Team Iran on Tuesday, posted an image of the Iranian flag with the Islamic Republic emblem digitally removed.
“We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours,” the United States Soccer Federation said in a statement.
US Soccer will restore the Islamic Republic emblem to Iran’s flag after briefly removing it. “We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours.” State-affiliated Tasnim reports the Iranian FF will ask FIFA to ban the #USMNT for 10 games. pic.twitter.com/nAqr2k3gqJ
— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) November 27, 2022
Some in the media are calling it Iran’s “George Floyd moment.” Protests have been ongoing since September when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in the custody of Iran’s morality police. The regime claims she died of a heart attack, which citizens of the country have deemed unlikely, considering her young age, and more than coincidental.
There may be some interest on the part of Iran to direct attention away from their own World Cup team’s support of the protesters. Ehsan Hajsafi, who plays left-back for the Iranian team has courageously emerged in support of anti-government protesters.
“They should know that we are with them. And we support them. And we sympathize with them regarding the conditions,” said Hajsafi at a news conference.
Last week, in a bold show of support for the female protesters who are burning their hijabs and cutting their hair in public, the Iranian team refused to sing their own national anthem before their match with England.
There are multiple reports of Iranians posting messages on social media thanking the American team for showing solidarity with their people.
— Holly Dagres (@hdagres) November 26, 2022
In a subtle show of support for the protests in Iran, the US men’s team remove the Islamic Republic’s emblem from Iran’s flag. Iranians I’ve spoken to are very grateful. @USMNT #MahsaAmini #FIFAWorldCup pic.twitter.com/Idz6Hr07tV
— Jonathan Harounoff (@JonathanHaroun1) November 26, 2022
The original flag graphic was restored as promised after the 24 hours had elapsed, but this was not acceptable to Iran. Tasnim News, Iran’s state media agency, called for the American team to be kicked out of the World Cup and suspended for ten games, according to CNN.
The agency pointed to a FIFA rule stating that a team may not “offend the dignity or integrity of a country, a person or a group of people.” They complained that, by “posting a distorted image of the flag of the Islamic Republic of #Iran on its official account,” the USMNT had violated that rule.
The likelihood is not seen to be high that FIFA will accede to Iran’s request.
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