Iran have called for USA to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup only a day before their group stage clash. The two teams will meet at the Al Thumama Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The two countries both need a win to qualify for the tournament’s knockout stages in their third of three group games. Iran claimed a late win over Wales last week after suffering a disastrous 6-2 defeat to England on the opening day, while USA have picked up two draws with their gutsy 0-0 stalemate against the Three Lions keeping their World Cup dreams alive.
Iran and the USA have only faced off twice in their history - with the former claiming a 2-1 win in the 1998 World Cup before they played out a 1-1 draw in an international friendly two years later. As their third meeting approaches, more drama has occured as the country have criticised Tuesday’s opponents.
Why do Iran want the USA to be removed from the World Cup?
Iran state media have called for the USA to be removed from the Qatar tournament after the United States Soccer Federation changed Iran’s flag on its social media platforms to show support for the country’s protestors. A now-deleted graphic of the Group B table showed Iran’s flag without the Islamic Republic emblem, with US Soccer telling CNN that it wanted to share the controversial graphic to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights” but always planned to go back to the original flag after 24 hours. The emblem is now back on the flag on the US Soccer’s social media channels.
A spokesperson for the State Department told CNN that they had no involvement in the US Soccer’s decision and claimed they were “looking forward to a peaceful and competitive match on the field.” However, the Iran state media took offence to the flag and demanded they be immediately removed from the tournament and suspended for 10 games for a “distorted image” of the country’s flag.
Iran state-aligned Tasnim news agency wrote on Twitter: “By posting a distorted image of the flag of the Islamic Republic of #Iran on its official account, the #US football team breached the @FIFAcom charter, for which a 10-game suspension is the appropriate penalty. Team #USA should be kicked out of the #WorldCup2022.”
What did Jurgen Klinsmann say about Iran?
Iran have been at the centre of controversy during the World Cup so far and have most recently criticised former US manager Jurgen Klinsmann for his comments on the national team on BBC. Following their win over Wales, Klinsmann said: “That’s their culture and that’s their way of doing it and that’s why Carlos Queiroz, he fits really well in the Iranian national team,” Klinsmann said. “He struggled in South America. He failed with Colombia to qualify then he failed with Egypt to qualify as well and then he went back right before the World Cup now and guided Iran where he worked already for a long, long time.
“This is not by coincidence. This is all purposely. This is just part of their culture. That’s how they play it and they work the referee. You saw the bench always jumping off, always working the fourth, the linesmen and the fourth referee on the sideline, constantly in their ears. They’re constantly in your face on the field. This is their culture and they kind of make you lose your focus and make you lose your concentration and what’s really important to you.”
Iran’s Carlos Queiroz was angered by the Klinsmann’s comments and took to Twitter to criticise the German, while the Iran Football Federation also demanded he apologise and resign from his Qatar 2022 Technical Study Group position with FIFA. Klinsmann has since said his comments “were taken out of context”