USA World Cup Team Bus Flag Free

The United States World Cup team bus will have no flag, in contrast to the other 31.

The official team bus to be used by the United States during the World Cup will not bear a flag for security reasons. The 32 official buses were presented Thursday in Frankfurt and the other 31 buses have large national flags of the their teams painted on rear sides. German and U.S. security officials came to the conclusion to leave the flag off the U.S. team bus, an official of the German organizing committee said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the topic.


At the 2002 World Cup, the United States was among the most heavily guarded teams. When the Americans arrived at Incheon International Airport, about 500 police formed a corridor the players walked through as they came out of customs, with SWAT team commandos mixed in. When the team’s charter flight landed at Daegu Airport before a game against South Korea, two tanks were on the runway. Metal detectors were placed at the entrance of the team hotel throughout the team’s stay.

This is a sad but prudent precaution.

While some will cite this as evidence that the policies of the Bush administration have made us incredibly unpopular worldwide, the fact of the matter is that the United States has long been, aside from Israel, the main target for terrorist attacks. After all, the USA was awash in post-9/11 sympathy in 2002 and the team still needed heavy security. Not to mention the fact that the 9/11 attacks were being planned well before Bush took office, al Qaeda declared war against us, twice, during the Clinton administration, and U.S. embassies and personnnel have been targets for terrorist activity going back to the 1970s.

Part of this has is a reflection of perceived arrogance of U.S. foreign policy and a sense that we side too strongly with the Israeli government. Mostly, though, it is a simple reflection of the fact that our status as the world’s only global superpower makes us the natural symbol of Western culture, wealth, and power.

Further, it would be hard to blame this on Bush:

German and Polish police chiefs fear rival hooligan gangs from eastern and western Europe will clash at next month’s soccer World Cup in Germany. “The great unknown for us is what comes our way from the east European countries,” said Heinz Theus, police director from the eastern German city of Leipzig. “It can very well happen that people look for confrontations … The east Europeans want to measure themselves against the west Europeans,” he told Reuters.

Then again, someone will find a way.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. MrGone says:

    Good thing they’re not telling anyone. Then someone could just target the one with no flag.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Kevin: True enough. The story even says what color the bus is.

    Still, an unmarked bus will stand out less than one with a gigantic American flag.

  3. Ugh says:

    Still, an unmarked bus will stand out less than one with a gigantic American flag.

    True, though I doubt it would help stop anyoe actually trying to do more harm than throwing an empty beer bottle at it.

  4. Christopher says:

    You are all advocating hiding our flag? None of you deserve the right to call yourselves patriots.

  5. Mike says:

    Its all well and good to be the Patriot when you sitting in Nebraska with an iced tea in your easy chair, but as an American who has been a resident of the middle east since 1998 I cannot fathom your connection with security with a lack of patriotism. Patriotism is from the heart, where it lives, and if my family and I (or any citizen abroad) wants to ensure our safety while abroad we must use wisdom. I am also assuming that all articles of your clothing prominently display Old Glory, because if you’re not willing to do this while living where ever you are in the safety of the USA then you, obviously, cannot be a patriot, by your own standards.