Female fans will reportedly have the chance to see Iran in person for the first time in two years in a vital World Cup game next week, attending a national match in a country where they were not allowed to buy tickets for decades.
FIFA became involved over the male-only policy which the country still seemed to be adopting in 2019, when banners were seen in stadiums urging officials to ‘let Iranian women enter their stadiums’.
Women were barred from entering stadia after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution in a move purportedly made to protect them from inappropriate behavior by men.
Muslim clerics had argued that women in the country must be shielded from the masculine atmosphere at matches, as well as the inevitability of seeing semi-clad men.
The ruling to allow some back in came after a fan who dubbed herself ‘Blue Girl’ brought fresh attention to the issue by setting herself on fire, as she feared being jailed for six months after dressing up as a man in an attempt to attend a match.
Iran face South Korea at the Azadi Stadium in the capital, Iran, where the fan, who died a week later of her injuries, had tried to gain access.
On the previous occasion when women attended, Iran beat Cambodia 14-0 in front of around 3,500 women.
IRNA reported at the time that the 850 allocated tickets for the initial sole section reserved for women in the stands had sold out in an hour.
The pandemic has partly thwarted any prospect of female fans going to games, but the state-linked Young Journalists Club has now reported that women will be in attendance when the table-toppers host the second-placed Koreans in a Third Round Group A clash.
The ban has been temporarily relaxed in the past, and has also applied to volleyball and basketball.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera before the Cambodia match about the campaign to ensure there is no cap on female supporters, Minky Worden, the director of global initiative at Human Rights Watch, said it is “a matter of human rights and according to FIFA’s own statues”.
“That is gender discrimination which creates risks,” the American leader of the organization warned at the time.
Should they advance to the finals in Qatar next year, Iran will be making their third consecutive appearance after heading to Brazil in 2014 and Russia four years later.