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Iran Calls To Boot US From World Cup for Removing Islamic Republic Flag Emblem

Iran has demanded that FIFA, the world football (soccer) association, discipline US Soccer for displaying Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, saying that US Soccer removed the name of God from Iran’s national flag. The flag was pictured in a graphic of the Group B standings posted on Saturday and later deleted. The Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran said it would lodge a complaint against US Soccer. At the same time, Iran’s state media has called for the US team to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The Iranian and US teams are set to meet each other in a match on Tuesday. US Soccer said in a statement that it wanted to change the Islamic Republic’s official flag for 24 hours to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights” but had planned to go back to the actual flag. The emblem in the center of the flag, which also looks like a lotus, represents the Islamic saying: “There is no god but God.” Meanwhile, Iran’s judiciary has in several cases in recent days criminalized support for other national teams and support for the Iranian team’s defeat. Among the recent cases are the shutting down of a restaurant in Tehran after it posted support for England’s national football team in the current World Cup and the arrest of former Iran national team player Voria Ghafoori for his support of ongoing anti-government protests and the team’s decision not to sing the national anthem before its World Cup match last week. Veteran sports journalist Pejman Rahbar was also arrested and interrogated for three hours after ridiculing Iran’s squad for its opening loss in the World Cup against England.