In cities across Iran, and especially in Iran’s Kurdish region, soccer fans set off fireworks and honked car horns early Wednesday to celebrate the U.S. win over the Iranian national team in a politically charged World Cup match that divided the protest-riven country.
Cheering fans hit the streets in various regions to celebrate the Iranian team’s 1-0 loss.
Some shouted “Death to the dictator,” a popular protest slogan referring to the Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The protests first erupted in September, following the death of a young woman in the custody of Iran’s brutal morality police in the capital of Tehran.
The protests quickly morphed into the most serious challenge to Iran’s theocracy since its establishment in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iranian authorities have blamed foreign actors, chiefly the U.S., for orchestrating the protest movement, but have provided no evidence.
The national team’s loss to the United States was seen by some as a victory against what they see as oppression by the government.
Take a look (and a listen) —
Iran is a country where people are very passionate about football. Now they are out in the streets in the city of Sanandaj & celebrate the loss of their football team against US.
They don’t want the government use sport to normalize its murderous regime.pic.twitter.com/EMh8mREsQn pic.twitter.com/MqpxQZqT20
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) November 29, 2022
— Farahmand (@FarahmandAlipur) November 29, 2022
— Len Khodorkovsky (@MessageFromLen) November 30, 2022
معلومه از فالوئرهای سرهنگ کرمی زند هستند. خوب خیابون رو قفل کردند.✌️🤣pic.twitter.com/M16glQqjuy
Iranians in #Tehran celebrate Iran's defeat in the match vs the U.S. #OpIran #Iran #IranProtest #IranProtests #IranProtests2022 #IranRevolution #IranRevolution2022 #MahsaAmini #WorldCup #USA #teammelli #usasoccer pic.twitter.com/QxPJRr7tcD
— Lisa Daftari (@LisaDaftari) November 30, 2022
Even in areas of Tehran some chanted protest slogans following the U.S. win.
But not everyone was cheering. Parham Azmand, a soccer fan in Tehran, said the Iranian team had done its best.
“We worked very hard but we couldn’t score although we did whatever we could,” he said. “This was their day (the Americans). Our players did their best and I hope we will perform better in future world cups and God willing go through to the second round.”
Following the match, state TV commentator Mohammad Hossein Misaghi said the U.S. took advantage of “many opportunities” in the match.
“It was not our day,” said another commentator, Mohammadreza Ahmadi. He brushed off the defeat, saying “a match is like that; it has win and loss.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article