Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics

For Iranians, their football team’s World Cup loss against the United States was cause for either sadness or exuberant joy, depending on where they stand on a two-month-old protest movement.

Caught between the clerical regime and calls to show solidarity with protesters, the national team pressed near-relentlessly in the second half on Tuesday night but was unable to cancel out a 38th-minute opener by the US, resulting in an early exit.

That prompted the extraordinary spectacle of Iranians cheering a defeat inflicted by the Islamic Republic’s arch-enemy often labeled the “Great Satanץ”

“Who would’ve ever thought I’d jump three meters and celebrate America’s goal!” tweeted Iranian gaming journalist Saeed Zafarany.

Inside Iran, celebrations were especially marked in western Kurdistan province, the cradle of a movement sparked by the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in morality police custody after her arrest for allegedly infringing the nation’s strict dress code for women.

A video shared online by Kurdish activist Kaveh Ghoreishi shows a Sanandaj city neighborhood at night with sounds of cheering and horns blaring after the United States scored.

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