Iran’s defeat to the United States at the World Cup has triggered unusual celebrations in multiple Iranian cities, amid growing public anger toward the country’s clerical rulers.
The United States and Iran, adversaries on the global stage, faced off in a tense match in Qatar on November 29, the first time the teams played each other in more than two decades.
As American football fans celebrated the U.S. 1-0 victory, which allowed the team to advance to the next round of the tournament, they were joined by a surprising group of supporters: footage obtained by IranWire show scenes of jubilation on the streets across Iran, with people dancing and cheering in celebration, as the country has been engulfed in protests demanding more freedom and women’s rights for more than two months.
🎥 در ویدیوهای رسیده به «ایران وایر» بوق ممتد ماشینها در خیابانهای مریوان و شادی مردم پس از شکست فوتبال مقابل آمریکا و حذف از جام جهانی دیده میشود. چهارشنبه ۹ آذر.#جام_جهانی #مهسا_امینی #اعتراضات_سراسری #اعتصابات_سراسری pic.twitter.com/dxA9jQbABT— ایران وایر (@iranwire) November 30, 2022
The Iranian team, which in the past has brought together Iranians of all political sides, has come under fire for not speaking out in support of the demonstrators.
"Who would've ever thought I'd jump three meters and celebrate America's goal!" Iranian journalist Saeed Zafarany tweeted after Iran’s loss.
Podcaster Elahe Khosravi wrote on Twitter: "This is what playing in the middle gets you. They lost to the people, the opponent, and even" the government.
In Saqqez, the hometown of Mahsa Amini, whose September 16 death in the custody of morality police sparked the ongoing wave of nationwide protests, people celebrated using fireworks while cheering can be heard in the background. Saqqez is in the western Kurdistan province.
ویدیوی رسیدە از سقز نشان میدهد کە جمعیت بزرگی از مردم سقز در میدان استقلال این شهر گرد آمدە و به خاطر شکست تیم فوتبال ایران در مقابل آمریکا در حال شادی و پایکوبی هستند.#جام_جهانی #مهسا_امینی #اعتراضات_سراسری pic.twitter.com/CENUNGQGVZ— ایران وایر (@iranwire) November 29, 2022
In the central city of Qom, women could be seen dancing on the roof of cars and waving their headscarves in the air as a crowd is clapping.
In the capital, Tehran, people in residential buildings could be heard whistling and cheering.
In a clip from the central city of Karaj, a woman can be seen wearing a trouser with the American flag on it as cheers are heard in the background.
Reacting to reports that Iranians were celebrating the U.S. victory, U.S. columnist Bobby Ghosh said during an appearance on MSNBC: "That is something I would not in a million years have expected to see in my own lifetime, which tells you that they hate their regime. And they hate the team that represents that regime."
Football is very popular in Iran, and political interference in the sport has been the norm since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Top footballers are expected to toe the line on all matters, including any unrelated to sport, or to at least remain silent.
The current protest movement marks one of the biggest challenges to the ruling clerics since the revolution that brought them to power.
More than 440 people have been killed in the state crackdown on demonstrations, including dozens of children. Thousands of people have also been arrested. At least six people have so far been sentenced to death over the protests.