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Major victory for women as Iran allows them to attend top league matches in stadium

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Major victory for women as Iran allows them to attend top league matches in stadium

Iranian women attend Iran’s World Cup Asian qualifier against Cambodia at the Azadi stadium in Tehran, Iran October 10, 2019. — Reuters

Published in Geo News, on July 10th, 2023, By Sports Desk

Iran will see the return of female spectators to the stadiums for the top league games this year, the country’s football boss said, marking a major victory for women against the long-standing ban on attending football matches.

The country has largely barred women from visiting stadiums for football and other matches since the Islamic revolution of 1979, despite no law prohibiting their entry.

“This year, one of the prominent features of this league… is that we will witness the entry of women into stadiums,” Iran’s Football Federation chief Mehdi Taj said.

The announcement came at the drawing ceremony of Iran’s top-level football season, comprising 16-teams, which is scheduled to take place next month.

Clerics in Iran, who play a major role in decision-making for the country, have argued that women must be shielded from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad male athletes.

However, despite all this, Taj on Sunday confirmed that some stadiums in the cities of Isfahan, Kerman and Ahvaz — but not the capital Tehran — were “ready” to host women.

In August, when Tehran club Esteghlal played another club, Mes Kerman, women were permitted for the first time to attend a football match.

In another instance, around 4000 women were allowed to attend Iran’s World Cup 2022 Qualifier’s match against Cambodia at Tehran Azadi Stadium in 2019.

Iran has faced massive pressure to allow women to attend matches after the death of a football fan Sahar Khodayari, who in 2019 set herself on fire for fear of being jailed as she tried to attend a football disguised as a man.

Khodayari became the symbol of movement and after four long years of the struggle, one might finally start seeing Iranian women enjoying football matches in the stadium.

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