US Soccer got itself into political firestorm this weekend when it was revealed that the USMNT Twitter account had posted images earlier this weekend of the Iran flag with the Islamic Republic symbol removed. A US Soccer spokesman said it was a move to “show support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.”

However, several media outlets pointed this out publicly, which caused considerable ire from the Iranian officials. Just a few hours later, the US Soccer social media account removed all of the images displaying the contentious flag. Following that, US Soccer then posted a new tweet that included the official Iranian flag.

“We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours,” the federation told ESPN.

US Soccer plays with fire

The controversy stems from the usage of an older version of the Iranian flag bearing the green, white and red colors. The emblem of the Islamic Republic was missing in what comes as a statement of support for protestors against the current government regime.

All of this controversy comes ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup game between the United States and Iran. If US wins, they move on to the next round. Iran only needs a tie to advance if Wales fail to beat England.

Iran has been in the spotlight following months of protests after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police detention. Mahsa was arrested for allegedly not adhering to the country’s strict dress code for women.

Following her death, more than 400 protestors have died and over 18,000 arrested, as the government has tried to crack down on the movement. Several nations have voiced their support for the protestors’ cause and have called upon to change the current regime in the country.

Iran’s World Cup matches thus far

Amidst the adversity and chaos back home, Iran started the World Cup in disastrous fashion losing 6-2 against England in their opening game. The Asian side however beat Wales on Friday with two late goals to keep their World Cup hopes alive. They currently sit second in Group B and take on the US Men’s National Team on Tuesday, a match that will transcend beyond the pitch.

A draw for Iran could see them guarantee a place in the Round of 16 should Wales fail to beat England while the US must win to have any hopes of qualification. The countries have been diplomatic rivals for more than 40 years and there is no doubt that either of the two sides will aim to edge past each other in this high stake, winner takes all clash.

Guide to World Cup 2022

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of the biggest event in soccer!
TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
The Groups: We breakdown each group and all the teams
The Kits: Check out what every team will be wearing on the field this fall
Predictor: Play out every scenario with our World Cup Predictor
World Cup Bracket: Map out the entire tournament, from the groups to the final