The U.S. mens soccer team has begun displaying Irans national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic as nationwide protests challenging Tehrans theocratic government continue.
The Twitter account of the U.S. mens team on Sunday displayed a banner with the squads matches in the group stage, with the Iranian flag only bearing its green, white and red colors. The same could be seen in a post on its Facebook and Instagram accounts laying out the point totals so far in its group.
The U.S. mens team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the absence of the emblem comes as monthslong demonstrations have challenged Irans government since the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by the countrys morality police.
The protests have seen at least 450 people killed since they started, as well as over 18,000 arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, an advocacy group following the demonstrations.
Iran has not released casualty or arrest figures for months and alleges without providing evidence that the protests have been fomented by its enemies abroad, including the U.S.
Tehran also restricts press access and has detained over 63 reporters and photographers since the demonstrations began, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, making covering the unrest that much more difficult.
Irans mission to the United Nations and its soccer federation did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Iranian state media had yet to acknowledge the emblems absence on the U.S. mens team accounts, though comments raged online.
The Islamic Republic emblem, designed in 1980, is four curves with a sword between them. It represents the Islamic saying: There is no god but God. It also resembles a tulip or lotus.
At the top and the bottom of the flag, there are 22 inscriptions of God is Great as well, which honors the date on the Persian calendar when the Islamic Revolution took hold.
The flag has become a point of contention at the World Cup. Apparent pro-government supporters have waved it, shouting at those demonstrating over Aminis death. Others at matches have waved Irans lion and sun flag, an emblem of its former ruler, the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
More security forces could be seen at Irans last match against Wales. In the capital Tehran, anti-riot police the same ones cracking down on protests waved the Iranian flag after the Wales win, angering demonstrators.
Team Melli will face the U.S. on Tuesday.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)