An Iranian man who had been friends with the midfielder from Iran’s national soccer team since childhood was killed by security forces in northern Iran as he honked his horn to cheer the country’s loss to the US team in Qatar on Tuesday.
The 1-0 loss by Iran led to its ouster from the 2022 World Cup.
Mehran Samak, 27, was in Bandar Anzali, northwest of Tehran, when he honked his horn in celebration. In response, according to human rights groups, he was shot in the head by security forces, The Guardian reported.
Samak was one of many Iranians protesting the Iranian government in the streets by cheering their loss to the US. He was a longtime friend of Iran’s midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi, according to reports.
After the loss Ezatolahi was shown upset on the field where he was consoled by Josh Sargent and DeAndre Yedlin of the US team.
On Wednesday, Ezatolahi posted to Instagram a photo from his childhood with Samak. He wrote: After last night’s bitter loss, the news of your passing set fire to my heart."
"Some day the masks will fall, the truth will be laid bare,” he added.
A video of Iranians celebrating in the streets after the country’s loss was shared on Twitter by Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad who wrote that “Iran is a country where people are very passionate about football.”
“Now they are out in the streets in the city of Sanandaj & celebrate the loss of their football team against US,” Alinejad said. “They don’t want the government use sport to normalize its murderous regime.”