- History & Culture
Why Iran’s flag is at the center of controversy at the World Cup
In 1980, the newly installed Islamic Republic replaced the Lion and Sun on the country’s tricolor flag with a tulip-shaped emblem—making both into potent political symbols.
Iran has been in turmoil since the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been in the custody of Iran’s morality police. Months of upheaval and demonstrations for women’s rights in Iran have spilled over into an unlikely place—the soccer pitch at the World Cup.
Last week, Iranian fans carrying the country’s pre-revolutionary flag were barred from attending its game against England. Then the U.S. Soccer Federation sparked a firestorm when it displayed Iran’s flag on its social media accounts without its iconic tulip emblem.
(5 things to know about Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts.)
Modified versions of Iran’s tricolor flag have long been used in Iran and its diaspora, both