Women attend first league match in Iran for 40 years

Women have officially attended a domestic league football match in Iran for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution, state media say.

 

About 500 are thought to have been at the game at Azadi Stadium in Tehran on Thursday night.

 

Women have effectively been barred from domestic matches where men are playing due to clerical disapproval under the Shia Muslim regime.

 

The last men’s match they watched was a World Cup qualifier three years ago.

 

At the time, authorities relented following an outcry after the death of 29-year-old Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire while awaiting trial for trying to attend a game disguised as a man.

 

Khodayari became known as “Blue Girl” because of the team she supported and a symbol of the struggle for women’s rights in Iran.

Several Iranian websites said the decision to allow women into the game on Thursday came after football’s world governing body Fifa sent a letter to Iranian authorities calling on them to permit more women into stadiums. Prohibiting women from games goes against international football statutes.

 

Those who attended the game between home side Estaqlal and rivals Mes-e Kerman were seated separately to men. Many waved flags, wore their team’s colours and chanted “Blue Girl” in acknowledgment to Khodayari.

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