FIFA president Gianni Infantino has told Iran it is time to allow women into football stadiums and that they expect “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. Infantino has been in regular dialogue with the Iranian football authorities and is hoping female football fans in the country will soon be allowed to return to stadiums.
“I am hopeful that the Iranian Federation and the Iranian authorities were receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation,” Infantino said in an official FIFA statement. “I contacted them several times in the recent past and so has the FIFA administration. We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them. “Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran.
“We understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but 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 competitions, including last summer’s tournament in Russia, host Cambodia on October 10 in their first home game of the 2022 qualifying competition. This month, 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 a court where she feared being jailed for six months, having attended the match in disguise as a man.
Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran.
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 was permitted to attend the second leg of the Asian Champions League final in Tehran last November, a match Infantino was also present at. Female supporters, 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.
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