Videos Show Iranians Celebrating U.S. Win in World Cup

After the U.S. men’s soccer team on Tuesday defeated Iran in a key FIFA World Cup match, Iranians were seen celebrating in videos posted to social media.

The United States and Iran, adversaries on the global stage, faced off in a tense World Cup match on Tuesday, the first time the teams played each other in more than 20 years. The high-stakes match determined which team would advance to the next round of the global soccer tournament.

Ultimately, the U.S. soccer team knocked out Iran 1-0, delivering not just an athletic victory, but also a symbolic one. Thousands of American soccer fans celebrated the win—but they were joined by a surprising group of supporters.

Following the U.S. win, videos emerged on social media appearing to show Iranians at home also celebrating their own team’s defeat. Iran has faced political turmoil in recent months after 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa Amini died in police custody in September after being accused of breaking Iran’s dress code for women. Amini’s death sparked nationwide protests, resulting in the deaths of hundreds.

Iranians celebrate their team's World Cup loss
U.S. and Iranian soccer players on Tuesday compete in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. After the Americans won the match, videos emerged on social media showing many Iranians celebrating their own team’s defeat.
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

Some residents in Saghez, Amini’s hometown, were among those rejoicing in Iran’s loss early Wednesday morning local time. Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad tweeted a video showing fireworks launching while cheering could be heard in the background.

“Tonight in Iran. The moment the US Soccer team scored a goal against Islamic Republic of Iran’s football team,” she tweeted. This is Saghez the hometown of #MahsaAmini, 22-year-old woman whose brutal death by the regime’s hijab police, sparking a revolution against the gender apartheid regime.

The video received more than 30,000 views on Twitter.

Iran International English tweeted similar videos from other parts of Iran showing residents cheer, shoot off fireworks and honk their car horns in celebration. One video was posted from Marivan, a city in Western Iran with a high Kurdish population. The group also shared a video from the capital city of Tehran.

Another video tweeted by an Iranian activist showed at least dozens of cars stopped in traffic while the drivers exited their vehicles to clap and cheer for the U.S. soccer team’s victory.

Columnist Bobby Ghosh said during an appearance on MSNBC that the videos are indicative of growing frustration with Iran’s political leaders, which has long faced scrutiny for its restrictive laws and human rights abuses, specifically against women and the LGBTQ community.

“Remarkably, already I’m seeing reports out of Iran that Iranians are celebrating the American victory,” he said. “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.”

Iran Protests: Political Unrest Spills Into World Cup

The celebrations are the latest sign of growing discontent with Iran’s leadership, which was directed toward the soccer team on Tuesday following the protests, as some demonstrators could face a death sentence.

Iran’s presence at the 2022 World Cup has been marred by controversy surrounding inflamed political tensions back home. Some fans in attendance have had items supporting the protesters taken by tournament officials.

Earlier in the tournament, some Iranian fans booed their own national anthem. Others also celebrated when England defeated their team, with videos showing some people in Tehran shouting “Death to dictator” following the match.

Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring women’s rights protests in the country, has reported that security forces cracking down on the demonstrations have killed at least 419 protesters.

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