With the eyes of the world now affixed on the World Cup in Qatar, it should come as no surprise that there was plenty of drama to go around…and not just on the pitch.
The issues began right away, as the host nation disallowed the sale of alcohol in the venues 48 hour before kickoff, and in the face of an enormous advertising deal with Budweiser’s parent company.
Now, with the US Men’s Team needed to beat Iran in order to make it to the next round of the competition, there’s some drama brewing between the two teams.
The U.S. Soccer Federation irked Iran ahead of their pivotal Group B match on Tuesday when it displayed the country’s national flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, saying the move supported protesters in Iran.
Iran’s government reacted by accusing America of removing the name of God from its national flag.
The US was not denying anything.
U.S. Soccer said in a statement Sunday morning that it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.” The Twitter account of the U.S. men’s team displayed a banner for the squad’s matches in the group stage, with the Iranian flag only bearing its green, white and red colors. The same was seen in a post on its Facebook and Instagram accounts.
But by Sunday afternoon, the normal flag with the emblem had been restored in the Twitter banner and on the Facebook and Instagram posts.
“We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours,” the federation said.
Iran countered with a serious request:
Iran’s football federation filed a complaint to FIFA’s ethics committee, according to The Guardian. The official called for a ban.
“According to Section 13 of FIFA rules, any person who offends the dignity or integrity of a country, a person or group of people shall be sanctioned with a suspension lasting at least 10 matches or a specific period, or any other appropriate disciplinary measure,” a legal adviser to Iran’s soccer federation told the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.
As of this writing, no official action has been taken by FIFA in the matter.