The United States Men’s National Team made a fantastic run in the World Cup by making it out of the group stage and advancing to the round of 16. The USMNT couldn’t qualify for the last World Cup, so this year’s World Cup in Qatar meant they would have to showcase all of the development they’ve made over the past four years. However, the Netherlands gave the USMNT their first tournament loss by beating them 3 -1. The USMNT will have another chance when the United States hosts the 2026 World Cup alongside Mexico and Canada. However, the United States Soccer Federation made a social media post the weekend before the game between Iran and the U.S. on November 28th. This would frustrate the Iranian people since they felt disrespected for their flag missing is Islamic Republic emblem. The flag only showed its red, white, and green stripes. Why did the United States Soccer Federation leave out the Islamic Republic emblem of the flag?
By posting a distorted image of the flag of the Islamic Republic of #Iran on its official account, the #US football team breached the @FIFAcom charter, for which a 10-game suspension is the appropriate penalty.
Team #USA should be kicked out of the #WorldCup2022 pic.twitter.com/c8I4i4z3Tv
— Tasnim News Agency (@Tasnimnews_EN) November 27, 2022
The game between Iran and the U.S. was crucial for the USMNT since whoever won would proceed to the knockout stage. During the game’s promotion, the United States federation changed the Iranian flag to support the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights. The U.S. federation only planned to have the flag up without the emblem for 24 hours and then later change it. However, according to CNN, “A spokesperson for the State Department told CNN it did not coordinate with US Soccer in the sporting body’s decision to change Iran’s flag on its social media accounts to show support for protesters in Iran.” On Sunday, November 27th, the day before the match, Iran state media reported that the USMNT should be immediately kicked out of the tournament and suspended for ten games. The Iran Football Federation then responded with a complaint to Fifa’s ethics committee since “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 ten matches or a specific period, or any other appropriate disciplinary measure”. The Tasnim News Agency even went to Twitter by posting the social media post that the USNMT posted to promote the game between IRAN and the USA.
The USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter had no involvement or idea that they put out on social media and even apologized for the flag being misrepresented. Gregg Berhalter spoke in a press conference where he discussed how the USMNT’s only focus is on the match. Gregg Berhalter stated, “The staff, the players, we had no idea … Our focus is on this match, and I don’t want to sound aloof or not caring by saying that. ”
I believe that the United States Soccer Federation didn’t realize the amount of attention they would get by supporting the protestors in Iran by not having the emblem in the flag. I can only imagine how hard it is to communicate with soccer players and coaches about everything they post on social media, so it doesn’t surprise me that Gregg Berhalter was surprised about what happened. However, I believe they handled the situation very well by apologizing and bringing their focus back to the soccer match. It’s not that the US team doesn’t care about the situation, but they weren’t aware of what was being posted as they have no part in the social media marketing for the USMNT.