To these Bay Area Iranian soccer fans in Qatar, US-Iran's World Cup game goes beyond the pitch

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022
US-Iran World Cup game goes beyond the pitch
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Bay Area soccer fans in Qatar plan to protest during Tuesday's World Cup match between Iran and U.S. despite facing threats, being followed.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's a tweet heard 'round the world and now causing friction at a make-or-break moment for Team USA at the World Cup.

Ahead of the team's critical game against Iran on Tuesday, the United States Soccer Federation posted this now-deleted tweet that included an image of the Iranian flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic.

RELATED: Iran wants US kicked out of World Cup after it changed flag on social media to support protesters

The move which led to calls by Iran's state media for the U.S. to be kicked out of the games - was meant to be a sign of solidarity with Iranian protesters.

Liz Kreutz: "Do you think that was the right move?"

Nima Rahimi: "Personally, yeah. I think it was the right move."

Kamran Amintaheri: "Absolutely that was a good move. U.S. national team kudos to them."

Kamran Amintaheri and Nima Rahimi are Iranian-Americans in the Bay Area. Both have helped organize local rallies, including a human chain, in support of the protesters in Iran.

The demonstrations began in September after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Iran who died in police custody for allegedly violating the country's hijab laws.

VIDEO: Demonstrators form human chain on Golden Gate Bridge, demand justice for death of Mahsa Amini

"We're all trying to find ways to show solidarity with the women, the men, the children, the folks that are fighting for their freedom on the ground in Iran and the U.S. federation did their part in showing their solidarity with the people," said Rahimi.

Although the U.S. Soccer Federation took down the tweet, Rahimi and Amintaheri say the game between the two countries is a chance to raise awareness of the situation in Iran.

With the world watching, they hope Team USA will do something to show support.

"We want to see some action, some gesture to support the Iranians to show that the world is listening to you, they're watching you," said Amintaheri.

RELATED: Iranian-Kurdish footballer arrested on charges of incitement against regime

Amintaheri will be watching from home but he has friends from the Bay Area that are currently in Qatar where they've been protesting the Iranian government from inside the World Cup stands. Among them are Mehdi Mirabian and Karina Mann of San Jose who told us they've been harassed and followed and had their items confiscated.

"We are under pretty extreme surveillance at this point. We've had people following us. Scary-looking people," said Mirabian.

"They would go confiscate any items that they thought at words like 'women, life, freedom' or a flag that used to be present before the current regime was in power," said Mann.

Despite the tensions, they plan to attend the U.S.-Iran game Tuesday. They're thinking of forming a human chain.

Anything to amplify the voices of those silenced in Iran.

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