Iran: women allowed to attend men’s football matches

Progress for women’s rights. Iranian women will be allowed to attend men’s football championship matches, after having been banned for a long time except with rare exceptions, the president of the Iranian Football Federation announced on Sunday (July 9th).

The 16-team men’s championship is due to start in August. For more than 40 years, the Islamic Republic has generally prohibited women from attending men’s football matches.

A precedent in October 2019

The clerics, who play a major role in decision-making in Iran, argue that women should avoid being in a masculine atmosphere and seeing men in sportswear, wearing shorts.

Mahdi Taj said that some stadiums in the cities of Isfahan, Kerman (center) and Ahvaz (west) were “loans” to welcome female spectators during matches. However, he did not name any stadium in Tehran. In August 2022, women were exceptionally allowed to attend a football championship match in Tehran.

And in October 2019, some 4,000 Iranian women were able to attend Iran’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cambodia at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, for the first time since the 1979 Revolution. Shortly before, the Federation international football (Fifa) had urged Iran to allow women’s access to stadiums without restriction, after the death of a supporter.

Sahar Khodayari had set herself on fire in front of a court for fear of being imprisoned for wanting to attend a match. She had tried to enter a stadium pretending to be a boy. His death had caused an outcry, with many calling for Iran to be banned from international fixtures and a boycott of matches.

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