Political tensions appear to be making their way onto the pitch ahead of the clash between Team Melli and Team USA on Tuesday.
The Iranian Football Federation has complained to FIFA about the removal of the word “Allah” from its flag on social media posts by its American counterpart, Iranian state news agency IRNA reported.
The complaint comes ahead of the World Cup match between Iran and the United States on Tuesday.
Iranian state news agency IRNA reported that “in an unprofessional act, the Instagram page of the US football federation removed the Allah symbol from the Iranian flag.”
Iran’s footballing body has written to FIFA “to demand it issue a serious warning to the US federation,” it added.
FIFA has not given an immediate public response to the complaint.
Team USA and Iran will clash in a pivotal World Cup match on Tuesday; a game already complicated by the long-standing animosity between the nations.
In 1980, the US and Iran ended diplomatic relations.
‘Support for Iran’s women’
The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) announced in a statement on Sunday morning that it had decided to do away with Iran’s official flag on social media accounts in solidarity with “women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.”
The Islamic Republic’s flag has three red, white, and green horizontal bands with the word “Allah” in stylised script in the centre.
The Iranian flag only featured its green, white, and red colours on the US men’s team Twitter account banner listing the team’s group-stage matches. The same was visible in a post outlining the group’s current point totals on its Facebook and Instagram accounts.
By Sunday afternoon, the altered flag had been removed from Facebook and Instagram posts, and the regular flag with the emblem had been reinstated in the Twitter banner.
“We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours,” the federation said.
The US team “breached the FIFA charter, for which a 10-game suspension is the appropriate penalty,” the Iranian Tasnim news agency wrote on Twitter.
It went on to say that the US team “should be kicked out” of the World Cup.
It is unlikely that FIFA will take such action, however many Iranians have taken to Twitter to call for the US to be expelled.