DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The U.S. men’s soccer team has begun displaying Iran’s national flag on social media without the Islamic Republic’s emblem as nationwide protests against Tehran’s theocratic government continue.
The US Men’s Team Twitter account on Sunday he displayed a banner of the team’s group stage matches, with Iran’s flag wearing only its green, white and red colors. The same can be seen in a post on her Facebook and Instagram accounts showing his group’s grade totals so far.
The U.S. men’s team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the absence of the emblem comes as months of protests have rocked Iran’s government following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16.who had been detained by the country’s morality police.
The protests have killed at least 450 people since they began, as well as more than 18,000 arrests, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, an advocacy group that has followed the protests.
Iran has not released figures on casualties or arrests for months and claims without providing evidence that the protests have been incited by its enemies abroad, including the US
Tehran is also restricting access to the press and has arrested more than 63 journalists and photographers since the protests began, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, making coverage of the unrest much more difficult.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations and its football federation did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Iran’s state media has yet to acknowledge the emblem’s absence from the U.S. men’s team accounts, though comments have sparked outrage online.
The emblem of the Islamic Republic, designed in 1980, is four curves with a sword between them. It represents the Islamic saying: “There is no god but God.” It also looks like a tulip or a lotus.
At the top and bottom of the flag, there are also 22 inscriptions “God is great”, commemorating the date in the Persian calendar when the Islamic Revolution took place.
The flag has become a point of contention at the World Cup. Apparently pro-government supporters waved it, shouting at those protesting Amini’s death. Others in matches wave Iran’s lion and sun flag, emblem of its former ruler, the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
More security forces were seen at Iran’s last game against Wales. In the capital Tehran, riot police – the same ones who crack down on protests – waved the Iranian flag after Wales’ victory, angering protesters.
Team Melli will face the USA on Tuesday.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.