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Here's What Happened to an Iranian Man Who Celebrated the National Team's World Cup Loss to the US

AP Photo/Martin Meissner

The World Cup has given Iranian players the opportunity to give global visibility to the widespread protests taking place in their country against the theocratic regime after the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. 

Players refused to sing the national anthem, standing silently ahead of their opening game at the World Cup. That proverbial middle finger to the regime was joined by fans in the stadium who held up "woman freedom life" banners and loudly booed. And back home, Iranians celebrated the national team's loss to England, with some even driving around Tehran waving Union Jack flags. 

The regime won't tolerate such public dissent, however, and reportedly threatened the family members of those on the national team with imprisonment and torture. Following that development, the players sang the anthem ahead of their second game against Wales. 

Their every move was being watched at the games by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, but so were the actions of protesters at home.  

Mehran Samak, 27, who joined fellow Iranians in celebrating the national team's loss to the U.S. by honking his car horn, was fatally shot in the head by the IRGC, according to Iran Human Rights. 

Samak was a good friend of national team player Saeid Ezatolahi, who posted about his childhood friend on social media. 

"I wish we could always stay at the same age…. without any concerns, without hate, without jealousy, without fighting to put each other down…. There is much to say my childhood team mate but unfortunately people are drowning in ego and jealousy and becoming a mess that you can hardly even find people listening to these words or they don't exist at all…," he said on Instagram, according to CNN. "Definitely after another bitter night last night and with the news of your death, my heart is even more on fire."

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