U.S. Soccer Coach Apologizes For Social Media Protest That Led To Iran Calling For World Cup Ban


The head coach of the U.S. men’s soccer team distanced himself and his players from U.S. Soccer’s viral social media posts protesting the Iranian government, seeking to quiet the noisy off-the-field tension before the countries face off in a critical World Cup match Tuesday.

Key Facts

U.S. players and coaches “knew nothing about what was being posted,” American manager Gregg Berhalter told reporters Monday, referring to now-deleted Saturday social media posts from the U.S. Soccer Federation which displayed Iran’s flag without the emblem of the country’s ruling Islamic Republic in what U.S. Soccer called a show of “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights” amid Iran’s ongoing crackdown on protesters.

Berhalter said Monday he wanted to “apologize on behalf of the players and the staff” for the incident, though he added “our thoughts are with the Iranian people,” as Iran faces weeks of protests that began after a woman accused of violating the country’s strict dress code died in police custody.

Iran filed a formal complaint with World Cup organizer FIFA over the social media episode, calling for the U.S. team’s disqualification from the tournament.

What To Watch For

Iran and the U.S. play Tuesday at 2 p.m. EST in a massive matchup: Both teams would advance to the round of 16 with a win or face elimination with a loss (Iran could advance with a draw depending on the result of Tuesday’s Wales-England contest).

Key Background

The latest gripe between the U.S. and Iran is far from the only political controversy clouding what actually happens on the pitch this World Cup, with FIFA barring the already qualified Russia’s men’s soccer team from the tournament in March after Russia invaded Ukraine. FIFA’s awarding of the 2022 event to the tiny Middle Eastern country has long been contentious given the bribes FIFA officials allegedly received from Qatar’s government and Qatar’s oppression of marginalized groups, outlawing homosexuality and offering limited rights to women. Thousands of migrant worker deaths have been linked to the country’s billions of dollars in construction for the tournament. FIFA’s ex-chief later called Qatar hosting a “mistake.”


Berhalter’s Monday press conference devolved into Iranian reporters asking the coach his stance on a series of American domestic issues, including inflation and systemic racism.

Further Reading

Qatar Makes World Cup History As It’s Knocked Out— Dashing Winning Hopes As Controversies Mount (Forbes)

‘Qatar Is A Mistake,’ Ex-FIFA Head Says: Here’s Why The 2022 World Cup Is Mired In Controversy (Forbes)

Here’s How Much Players From The U.S. And Other Countries Stand To Earn From The World Cup (Forbes)

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dereksaul/2022/11/28/us-soccer-coach-apologizes-for-social-media-protest-that-led-to-iran-calling-for-world-cup-ban/