Iranians celebrate World Cup defeat against England as anti-regime anger mounts

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LONDON: Video clips from Iran show its people celebrating after the national football team’s 6-2 defeat against England at the FIFA World Cup on Monday, the Daily Mail reported.

The reaction came after months of unrest in the country and nationwide clashes between government forces and protesters.

One video shows a man on the back of a moped riding through the streets of Tehran with a Union Jack flag draped over his shoulders.

The man who captured the video said: “People are happy because of England’s victory.”

Another clip from the Iranian capital shows people cheering around suburban apartments at the time of the 6-2 reverse.

Kamran, an academic in Mazandaran Province, said: “The protest movement has overshadowed football. I want Iran to lose these games.”

Many Iranian supporters who attended the match in Doha wore clothing or carried signs printed with the popular anti-regime slogan “women, life, freedom.”

The Iran team refused to sing the country’s national anthem before the match, a move that could carry consequences when the players return home after the tournament.

Captain Ehsan Hajsafi said in a press conference yesterday: “We have to accept that conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy.

“They should know that we are with them. And we support them. And we sympathize with them regarding the conditions.”

Catherine Perez-Shakdam, an Iranian at the UK-based Henry Jackson Society, told the Daily Mail that the Iranian team and fans will likely face punishment for defying the Tehran regime.

She added: “The refusal by Iran’s football team not to sing the Islamic Republic’s national anthem will be a decision the players will pay for dearly.

“Similarly, any Iranian fan identified by the regime for booing the anthem will also face being severely punished. This is the brutal reality of modern-day Iran.

“Iran’s players may have forfeited more than just their freedom today; and their lives may not be the only ones on the line.

“Indeed, the regime has demonstrated a particular propensity to target dissidents’ family members and in doing so deter others from voicing their opinions.

“Given Iran’s horrendous track record, it stands to note that the players and fans who today shunned the regime knew full well about the risks they faced.

“Such courage and dignity in the face of absolutism most certainly deserves our full recognition.”

Anusha, 17, said that the mood around Iran meant that many people were now willing to support the Iranian football team’s opponents.

The schoolgirl said: “A few months ago I would have said of course I want Iran to win against England and America.

“Now, it’s strange. I really don’t care.”

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