In the night between Tuesday and Wednesday in Iran, demonstrators who have been protesting against the regime that governs the country for weeks celebrated the defeat of their national team at the World Cup in Qatar. Iran lost 1-0 to the United States in a highly anticipated match which resulted in the Iranian national team missing out on to the round of 16. The protests have been going on in various forms for more than ten weeks: they began in September after the death in prison of Mahsa Amini, a young woman arrested in Tehran because she did not wear the Islamic veil correctly. The celebrations for the defeat of the national team against the United States were yet another occasion for many Iranians to protest in the streets.
Protesters see the Iranian national team as a symbol of the Islamic Republic and have refused to support it during the World Cup. After the defeat against the United States, many people took the opportunity to celebrate in the street by dancing, honking car horns and chanting chants against the government and against the Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei, Iran’s most important political and religious figure.
The Iranian people are out in the streets in Marivan celebrating the Islamic Republic’s loss to Team USA and chanting for freedom. So humiliating for #Iran‘s regimen.#MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/sbxatIArFY
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) November 29, 2022
There were celebrations in the capital Tehran but also in many other provincial cities. A Marivan e Kermanshah the chants “Woman, life, freedom”, one of the slogans of the protest, were sung, while in Saqqez, the birthplace of Mahsa Amini, in Kurdistan, the goal of the United States was celebrated with fireworks.
The hometown of the current revolution. The city where Jhina (Mahsa) Amini was from: Saqqez, Kurdistan. Fireworks to celebrate team USA scoring against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s team at #FIFAWorldCup. USA won 1-0. #مهسا_امینی #ژینا_امینی pic.twitter.com/Kw8r4jJ6Hf
— mahsa alimardani 🌒 مثلا (@maasalan) November 29, 2022
Celebrations in Javanrud #FIFAWorldCupQatar2022 #MahsaAmini https://t.co/bSAc9TjhKz
— Kelly G Niknejad (@TehranBureau) November 29, 2022
Some videos posted online also denounce that the Revolutionary Guards – the most powerful Iranian military corps, which depends directly on Khamenei – would have fired on demonstrators who were celebrating Iran’s defeat. However, it is not possible to independently confirm this information.
Nov. 29, Behbahan, Khuzestan. The brutes of the Islamic Republic shooting at Iranians celebrating the loss of the Islamic Republic’s team in #FIFAWorldCup #MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/EVqmzve6j5
— 1500tasvir_en (@1500tasvir_en) November 30, 2022
The Iranian national football team had not sung the national anthem before the first match of the tournament against England (later lost 6-2) in what appeared to be an implied declaration of support for the protests. In the following two matches against Wales (won 2-0) and the United States, the Iranian players sang the anthem regularly, while an anonymous source of the Iranian security services in Qatar told on US television cnn that the families of the footballers would have been threatened with repercussions in the event of political claims by the players on the pitch and in front of the television cameras. For most of the demonstrators, however, the national team in Qatar did not represent the population, but the regime.