Political bad blood between US, Iran dominates run-up to World Cup showdown

A U.S. soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The federation described the move as a show of support for protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations' World Cup match Tuesday. The federation said in a statement Sunday that it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights. (Instagram via AP) (Instagram, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The politics of anti-regime protests are dominating the run-up to a World Cup showdown between the U.S. and Iran, with coaches and players fielding politically charged questions before Tuesday’s match.

Given the long-running hostility between Washington and Tehran, any sporting contest between the two countries carries political overtones. But the recent wave of street protests in Iran has injected a particularly heavy dose of politics, especially after the U.S. Soccer Federation tweeted an altered Iranian flag, one without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, to show solidarity with Iranian women demonstrating against the government.

Iran responded by demanding that the U.S. be expelled from the quadrennial tournament, arguing that the social media posts, which also showed up on Facebook and Instagram, violated the rules and regulations of FIFA, the sport’s governing body.

Read the full report from NBC News.