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Iran wants Team USA kicked out of World Cup over flag image

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A state-affiliated Iranian news agency called for the United States to be kicked out of the World Cup ahead of a match between the two teams on Tuesday after U.S. Soccer released an edited image of the Iranian flag in support of protesters there. Photo by Chris Brunskill/UPI
A state-affiliated Iranian news agency called for the United States to be kicked out of the World Cup ahead of a match between the two teams on Tuesday after U.S. Soccer released an edited image of the Iranian flag in support of protesters there. Photo by Chris Brunskill/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A state-affiliated Iranian news agency called for the United States to be kicked out of the World Cup for releasing an edited image of the Iranian flag in support of protesters there.

The Tasnim News Agency, a 10-year-old semi-official news agency connected with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Sunday the image of the edited flag breached FIFA's charter.

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"...A 10-game suspension is the appropriate penalty," the Tasnim News Agency said in a Twitter post. "Team USA should be kicked out of the World Cup 2022."

The U.S. soccer federation posted a graphic for its upcoming match against Iran with the emblem of the Islamic Republic removed in a show of support for protestors on Sunday.

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The graphic was included temporarily on the Twitter header of the men's national team. It included flags of the team's upcoming opponents, but the Iranian flag was altered. The graphic was later changed to include the emblem of the Islamic Republic. U.S. Soccer has since updated the graphic to include the emblem.

Team USA defenders Tim Ream and Walker Zimmerman said during a press briefing they were not consulted about the social media image beforehand and were unaware of the controversy brewing over it.

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"The intent of the post was to show our support for women's rights," a team spokesman said at the same briefing. "It was meant to be a moment. We made the post at the time. All the other representations of the flag remained consistent and will continue."

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Iran is in the midst of long-standing anti-government protests which have shifted specifically toward the government's oppression of women. On Sept. 16, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, was killed in police custody in Tehran, sparking a mass protest.

The Iranian soccer team ended a silent protest as its players sang their country's national anthem before eking out a pair of goals in extra time to defeat Wales 2-0 on Friday at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

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