Soccer fans in Iran’s Kurdish region took to the streets early Wednesday morning to celebrate the United States’ World Cup win over their home country, the Associated Press reported.
Fans in the Iranian province of Kurdistan set off fireworks and honked car horns after the U.S. beat Iran 1-0 in Tuesday’s politically charged match. The U.S. now advances to the knockout stage, while Iran was eliminated from the World Cup.
Like much of Iran, Kurdistan has been rocked by anti-government protests in the wake of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. Amini, who was Kurdish, was arrested by the “morality police” in September for improperly wearing her hijab.
Amid Wednesday’s World Cup celebrations in the Kurdish-majority province, some shouted the protest slogan “Death to the dictator,” referring to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to the AP.
Several human rights groups have recently expressed concerns about the Iranian government’s intensifying crackdown on protesters in Kurdish regions, with one group estimating that at least 42 people were killed in the country’s Kurdish areas in the span of one week in November, The Washington Post reported.
The U.S. Soccer Federation briefly published a social media post this weekend featuring a doctored image of the Iranian flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic to show "support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights."
The post, which has since been deleted, led to calls from Iranian state media for the U.S. to be banned from the World Cup ahead of Tuesday’s match.