After the United States won against Iran in the World Cup, many U.S. fans celebrated the win while Iranian fans protested the underlying problems of the Iranian government.
Iranians continue to protest the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody for allegedly wearing her hijab loosely in Tehran.
The Iranian government has denied involvement in Amini’s death and the United Nations has condemned Iranian leaders for the treatment of protesters.
The World Cup was rescheduled to November because of the sweltering heat in Qatar during the summer. Iran qualified for the tournament and protesters used the games to draw more attention to the ongoing human rights situation.
The Iranian soccer team used the spotlight and position to address the protests, with the team captain offering condolences to those killed by police.
The Iranian soccer team did not sing their national anthem during the opening game against England as a form of protest but received backlash from the protesters after singing in their second match against Wales.
The Iranians hoped for a win or a tie against the U.S. Men’s National Team during their final match of group play but lost 1-0 after Christian Pulisic scored a goal in the first half.
In the Kurdish region of Iran, there was a massive celebration after Iran’s defeat. In Amini’s hometown of Saqqez, many cars were also in the streets celebrating.
Mehran Semak was shot in the head by Iranian forces in the city of Bandar Anzali after the 27-year-old continuously honked his car horn to celebrate Iran’s defeat.
A member of the Iran soccer team, Saeid Ezatolahi, was one of Semak’s childhood friends and posted his sentiments about their friendship and the ongoing problems in Iran on Instagram.