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U.S. Coach Apologizes for Brief Removal of Islamic Symbol from Iran’s Flag

USA soccer coach Gregg Berhalter attends a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) in Doha on November 28, 2022, on the eve of the Qatar 2022 World Cup match between Iran and USA. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP)
USA soccer coach Gregg Berhalter attends a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) in Doha on November 28, 2022, on the eve of the Qatar 2022 World Cup match between Iran and USA. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP)

United States coach Gregg Berhalter apologized on Monday for the furor triggered by a social media post depicting a modified version of Iran’s flag as the two geopolitical foes prepared for their crunch World Cup showdown.

US Soccer sparked uproar over the weekend after posting an Iranian flag without its Allah symbol on the federation’s social media feeds in what it said it was a gesture of solidarity with Iranian women protesters.

The posts were subsequently deleted in the wake of an outcry by the Iranian Football Federation, which lodged a complaint to FIFA demanding sanctions against the US team.

Berhalter told a press conference on Monday that the US players and coaching staff had been oblivious about the posts as he sought to calm tensions surrounding Tuesday’s Group B game, where a place in the last 16 is at stake.

“Sometimes things are out of our control,” Berhalter said. “We’re not focused on those outside things and all we can do is apologize on behalf of the players and the staff, but it’s not something that we were a part of.

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