A 27-year-old man was shot dead by Iranian security forces in Bandar Anzali as protesters celebrated the national football team's elimination from the FIFA World Cup after their 0-1 loss to the United States.
Protesters, including Mehran Samak, publicly cheered across Iran after the national team was knocked out of the competition. Samak was honking his car horn in Bandar Anzali – a city north-west of Tehran -- while celebrating Iran's loss when he was reportedly shot in the head.
Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said the young man was targeted directly and shot in the head by security forces.
Saeid Ezatolahi, Iranian international midfielder who played in the U.S match and is also from Bandar Anzali, revealed he knew Samak and posted a picture of them together in a youth football team. He took to Instagram to share his thoughts. "After last night's bitter loss, the news of your passing set fire to my heart."
Ezatolahi described Samak as a childhood teammate. "Someday the masks will fall, the truth will be laid bare," he posted. "This is not what our youth deserve. This is not what our nation deserves."
The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) also stated that Samak had been killed by the security forces while celebrating. The New York-based group posted a video from Samak's funeral in Tehran, mourners can be heard shouting "death to the dictator" which is aimed at Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Many Iranians, as per various reports, chose not to support their national football team during the tournament in Qatar. They consider the team is as a symbol of the Islamic Republic. Masih Alinejad, an exiled Iranian journalist, tweeted that Iran is a country where people are very passionate about football. "Now they are out in the streets in the city of Sanandaj and celebrate the loss of their football team against the U.S." She said protesters don't want the government to use sport to normalize its murderous regime.
The IHR claims Iran's security forces have killed at least 448 people in the crackdown on the protests, including 60 children under the age of 18 and 29 women.