Iran’s soccer team’s loss to the United States in the FIFA World Cup on Wednesday sparked unusual celebrations in their home country, in stark contrast to the reaction expected after any national soccer team’s defeat .
Scenes of jubilation on the streets of Iran have been shared widely on social media as the country, plagued by protests, continues to disown the football team it sees as part of the oppressive regime.
Iran is a country where people are very passionate about football. Now they are on the streets of the city of Sanandaj celebrating the loss of their football team to the United States.
They don’t want the government to use sport to normalize its murderous regime.pic.twitter.com/EMh8mREsQnpic.twitter.com/MqpxQZqT20
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) November 29, 2022
Videos shared on Twitter show Iranians dancing in the streets in a rare display of joy after videos of burning tires and protesting crowds emerged from the country in recent months. But the celebratory dancing and honking was also a show of protest as they denounced the football team’s participation in the World Cup at such a tumultuous time.
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) November 30, 2022
Protests over the death of Mahsa Amini have rocked the country with more than 300 people, including children, killed since September. Mahsa Amini was killed in police custody by Iran’s notorious vice squad for the “crime” of not wearing her hijab properly on September 16.
In Mahsa Amini’s hometown of Saqez, as well as several other cities across Iran, citizens celebrated using fireworks. “Citizens of Saqez started celebrating and using fireworks after USA’s first goal against Iran soccer team,” London-based website Iran Wire said on Twitter.
“Who would have ever thought I would jump three meters and celebrate America’s goal!” Iranian gaming journalist Saeed Zafarany tweeted after the loss. Podcaster Elahe Khosravi also tweeted, “That’s what playing in the middle gives you. They lost to the people, the opponent and even” the government.
Surreal: fireworks would come from Saqqez #Iran this evening to celebrate the victory of the United States over the Iranian team at the World Cup. Saqqez is #MahsaAmini‘s hometown, the woman whose death sparked mass protests against the regime pic.twitter.com/1qoXxmBkfK
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) November 29, 2022
Since then, protests have raged across the country, challenging government authority.
The Iranian football team, in their own version of a protest, refused to sing the national anthem ahead of their opening match against England on November 22. While the rebellion was accepted as brave by some, many Iranians still say the football team does not represent the Iranian people, but the government.
(With contributions from AFP)
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