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Flagging Down the Flag

The US recently received heat from many for misrepresenting the Iranian flag during the World Cup.

By Manal Rashid

Every four years, the World Cup unites soccer fans to show pride for their country and love for the sport. In the 2022 World Cup, many people have taken the opportunity to come together for political reasons and to support marginalized groups fighting for their rights.

An example of this social activism was seen in the support for the women of Iran. Recently implemented laws requiring Iranian women to wear hijabs have ignited protests from Iranians, in which many people have been executed for fighting against these laws. The Iranian national team has used this World Cup to shed light on the social and political turmoil in their nation and the women fighting for their rights.

A new layer of social controversy has been added to the already existing conflicts. On November 29, the US played against Iran in the group stage of the World Cup. Days before the match, the US Soccer Federation briefly displayed the flag of Iran without the symbol of the Islamic Republic on social media. This decision by the Federation added another political controversy to the World Cup. The Iranian government accused America of removing the name of God from the flag, whereas the Federation argued that they refrained from displaying the Islamic symbol to support the women in Iran fighting for their rights.

For many, the issue in Iran is more than a post on social media.

“I can see how this would be seen as controversial, but I also think this is a surface-level attempt at activism. Not including the Islamic Republic symbol on this virtual image isn’t going to directly affect the situation or actively help any of those being oppressed by the Iranian government, but it can cause a strain between the US and Iran, which can have a lasting effect, and not in a good way I fear,” junior Nicole Donnelly said.

After receiving backlash, the Federation deleted the post from all their social media profiles. However, the Iranian state believes that this action should be dealt with punishment, and some are even going as far as asking for the US to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup.

Artwork by Debarati Chowdhury

The US stated it wanted to change the flag for 24 hours in hopes of standing with the Iranian women who are fighting for their rights.

Many think the real issue is not about the post the Federation made but the issue that is happening in Iran.

“Personally, I think the attacks made by the Iranian Government upon women should be of much larger concern to the US Soccer Federations misrepresenting their flag. I don’t think what the US Soccer Federation did calls for a greater punishment than the one the Iranian government should receive,” junior Guneet Hanjra said.


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