Mehran Samak, 27, was reportedly shot in the head in the city of Anzali, eastern Iran, by government agents after he honked his car horn to celebrate the Iranian national team’s 1-0 loss.
Samak was sitting in his car next to his fiancée when a member of Iran’s security forces approached their car and shot the football fan with a bullet to the head, reports Iran International. He was rushed to hospital but he died within an hour.
Samak had joined dozens of other Iranians across the country who celebrated the national team’s loss to the United States amid growing anger against the Islamic Regime.
Many saw the match result as a victory against the Iranian government, which has cracked down on nationwide protests that have engulfed the Islamic Republic for months.
In Iran’s Kurdish region, football fans set off fireworks and honked car horns early on Wednesday to celebrate the Iranian team’s defeat.
Some shouted ‘Death to the dictator,’ a popular protest slogan referring to the Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The western Kurdish region of the country has seen particularly intense protests and a deadly crackdown by security forces, which has seen at least 300 people killed.
The protests first erupted in September, following the death of a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of Iran’s morality police in the capital of Tehran.
The 22-year-old died three days after her arrest in Tehran for allegedly breaching the Islamic dress code for women.
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.
On Tuesday night, Iran’s national team lost 1-0 to the United States. The Iranian players were careful to sing their national anthem before the game after being warned by officials in Tehran they face retribution for their ‘insulting’ decision not to sing it ahead of the match against England.
An Iranian politician warned their could be punishment if they didn’t start singing the anthem for their final two games, against Wales and the United States.
They sang the anthem before the Wales game but stood stony faced as the anthem played at the Khalifa International Stadium last Monday ahead of their 6-2 World Cup defeat to England.
It was viewed as a stand of solidarity with protests currently engulfing Iran following the death of Amini.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Kurdish majority areas have seen waves of unrest amid nationwide protests against the government. 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.
Even in areas of Tehran some chanted protest slogans following the U.S. win.
Videos posted online showed cars out on the streets of Saqqez, the capital of Kurdistan province, and the home town of Mahsa Amini, the young woman died in police custody in September.
Last week, Iranian security forces arrested former national football player, Voria Ghafouri, for criticising the government over the crackdown on the protests that have engulfed the Islamic Republic for months.
Ghafouri, who was dropped from Iran’s national squad ahead of the Qatar World Cup, was arrested after a training session with his local club Foolad Khuzestan in Iran.
The 35-year-old was arrested over accusations that he had ‘tarnished the reputation of the national team and spread propaganda against the state’.
Ghafouri was also accused of supporting ‘rioters’, a term the Islamic state uses to refer to the anti-government protesters who have been demonstrating following the death of Amini.
Ghafouri, who is also a member of Iran’s Kurdish minority, has been a vocal critic of the Islamic regime and its violent crackdown on the protests.