Iranian police fatally shot a man celebrating the country’s World Cup elimination Tuesday, according to human rights groups.
Activists said Mehran Samak, 27, was killed after honking his car horn at a protest celebration in Bandar Anzali, the Guardian reported.
Samak was “targeted directly and shot in the head by security forces,” the group Iran Human Rights said in a statement.
Iranian authorities have killed nearly 450 people since September in ongoing protests across the country, according to Iran Human Rights, which is based in Norway.
The protests erupted after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody on Sept. 16 after she was arrested for “improperly” wearing her hijab.
Iran’s national soccer team was squarely in the political crosshairs ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, which began Nov. 20. The Iranian players did not sing the country’s national anthem before their first game.
That action, or lack thereof, was celebrated by some in Iran, but many protesters said the players didn’t go far enough. The team sang the anthem before its second and third games, the last of which ended in elimination at the hands of the United States.
After the loss, celebrations were reported across Iran as people cheered the failure of a team they saw as representing the Iranian government.
And in a shocking twist, Iranian midfielder Saeed Ezatolahi revealed in a heartbreaking social media post that Samak was his childhood soccer teammate.
“After last night’s bitter loss, the news of your passing set fire to my heart,” Ezatolahi wrote of Samak. “This is not what our nation deserves.”