Ahead of the United States’ must-win game against Iran at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, U.S Soccer decided on a subtle form of protest against the Iranian regime that is brutalizing protestors who are advocating for women’s rights.
The Associated Press reported that U.S. Soccer has shown the upcoming game against Iran on its official social media channels by using the Iranian flag without the insignia that represents the Islamic Republic. Instead, the flag shown on the schedule for the upcoming game is simply Iran’s red, white and green colors.
The phrase “God is Great” is written in Persian on the Iranian flag, but that also does not appear on U.S. Soccer’s presentation of the flag.
U.S. Soccer, the governing body of the U.S. national soccer teams, made an official comment on the move saying it’s meant to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.”
Sparked by the Iranian so-called “security police’s” killing of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was arrested for not wearing her hijab properly, Iran has been embattled in protests over women’s rights in Iran since September. Protestors have been met with incredible violence with security forces and their clashes have often turned bloody.
More than 18,000 people have been arrested for protesting and more than 450 people have been killed, according to the advocacy group Human Rights Watch. The Committee to Protect Journalists has reported that 63 journalists and photographers have been detained in Iran for reporting on the protests.
Amid fear from the United Nations and other human-rights groups that the Iranian government is growing more brazen in its crackdown on protesters and citizens of Iran, there have been incredibly brave moments of protest at the World Cup.
The Iranian national team stood in silence during the playing of its national anthem before its game against England while an Iran player spoke out in support of women’s rights during a press conference.
Before Iran’s game against Wales on Friday, an Iran fan with makeup resembling bloody tears going down her face appeared to be confronted by stadium security in Qatar over a jersey the fan had with the name Mahsa Amini on the back.
There hasn’t been any indication that the USMNT will stage another form of protest in support of Iranian women’s rights during its 2 p.m. must-win game on Tuesday, but don’t count it out.