Nov 28, 2022 - World

U.S. soccer coach apologizes for altered Iranian flag post

Gregg Berhalter at a press conference in Doha

Gregg Berhalter speaks during the USA Press Conference on Nov. 28 in Doha, Qatar. Photo: Hector Vivas - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Gregg Berhalter, the head coach of the U.S. men’s national team, apologized Monday on behalf of his players and staff for a controversial social media post by the U.S. Soccer Federation but maintained that they had no involvement with the post.

Driving the news: Over the weekend the USSF temporarily displayed a post on social media of the Iranian flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, a move it said was intended to show "support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights."

  • Iranian state-affiliated Tasnim News Agency wrote on Twitter that the move by USSF "disrespected the national flag of [the] Islamic Republic of Iran," and added in another post that the U.S. team should be "kicked out" of the tournament.
  • Iranian officials have filed an official complaint to FIFA's ethics committee, The Athletic reported.
  • The social media posts, which have since been deleted or restored with the official Iranian flag, came days before the U.S. plays Iran in the final game of the World Cup's group play.

What they're saying: “We had no idea about what U.S. Soccer put out. The staff, the players, we had no idea,” Berhalter said at a press conference Monday.

  • "Our focus is on this match," he said.
  • "We're not focused on those outside things and all we can do, on our behalf, is apologize on behalf of the players and the staff. But it’s not something that we were a part of," he added.

What to watch: The U.S. team will play Iran on Tuesday in a match that is a must-win for the USA in order to advance to the knock-out stage of the World Cup tournament.

  • Iran can sneak through with a draw if Wales doesn't defeat England in their next match, also taking place Tuesday.
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