Iranian female soccer fans may be able to watch the beautiful game live in a stadium as early as October if their country heeds the advice of the world football governing body.
- Iran will host Cambodia on October 10 in their first home game of the 2022 World Cup qualifying competition
- FIFA president Gianni Infantino says he is hoping for “good news”
- The push to allow women has grown stronger after the death of Iran’s “Blue Girl”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has told Iran it is time to allow women into football stadiums and the global soccer body expects “positive developments”, starting with their next home match in October.
While foreign women have been allowed limited access to matches, Iranian women have been banned from stadiums when men’s teams have been playing, since just after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Mr Infantino said in a FIFA statement he was hopeful that the Iranian Football Federation and government authorities had been receptive to “our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation”.
“Our position is clear and firm,” he said.
“Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran.
“Now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October.”
Iran, who have qualified for five World Cup finals, including the last two, host Cambodia on October 10 in their first home game of the 2022 qualifying competition.
Iran’s ‘Blue Girl’
In September, a female fan died after setting herself on fire to protest against her arrest for attending a match.
Sahar Khodayari, dubbed “Blue Girl” for the colours of her favourite team Esteghlal, died in hospital after setting fire to herself outside the court where she was facing charges for trying to enter a football stadium.
Ms Khodayari’s death has caused widespread outrage in Iran and internationally, prompting calls on social media for Iran’s football federation to be suspended or banned by FIFA.
Critics say FIFA’s own statutes hold discrimination on grounds of gender punishable by suspension or expulsion.
There were signs the situation regarding female fans in Iran was changing when a group of women were permitted to attend the second leg of the Asian Champions League final in Tehran last November.
Mr Infantino was present at the match. Female fans, however, have been denied access to matches since.
At Iran’s friendly against Syria in June, women were locked out of the Azadi Stadium and detained by security forces.
Mr Infantino said a FIFA delegation was now in Iran.
“I am looking forward to hearing good news from them,” he said.