FIFA president says Iran has assured women can attend qualifier

AFP
September 22,2019

FIFA president said: 'We need to have women attending, we need to push for that with respect but in a strong and forceful way'

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Iranian women watch the World Cup Group B soccer match between Portugal and Iran at Azadi stadium in Tehran, Iran, June 25, 2018. AFP/Atta Kenare/Files

FIFA PresidentGianni Infantino said Sunday theworld's football governing body was "assured" by Iran's authorities that women will be able to attend a World Cup qualifier in Tehran next month.

Earlier today, the FIFA had demanded Iran allow women free unlimited access to stadiums after the death of Sahar 'Blue Girl' Khodayari, who, in early September, had died of self-immolation in fear of being jailed for attending a football match in stadium.

Infantino, while addressing a FIFA conference on women's football in Milan on Sunday, said: "We have been assured that as of the next international game of Iran, women will be allowed to enter football stadiums."

The footbally body wishes that Iran would end its ban on women entering stadiums that breaches international soccer statutes prohibiting discrimination.

Infantino added: "We need to have women attending, we need to push for that with respect but in a strong and forceful way and we cannot wait anymore.

"This is something very important; it is 40 years that this has not happened, with a couple of exceptions but it is important to move to the next level and to the next stage."

Iran's anti-women laws

Iran has barred women spectators from football and other stadiums since 1981, with clerics arguing they must be protected from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.

FIFA officials have been in Iran to discus preparations for the October 10 World Cup qualifier against Cambodia, their first home game of the 2022 qualifying competition.

The Islamic republic had came under fire earlier this month over its anti-women laws after Khodayari — dubbed "blue girl" because of the colours of the team she supported, Esteghlal FC — passed away, triggering calls for an end to a ban on women attending matches.

Khodayari was reportedly detained last year when trying to enter a stadium dressed as a man to watch them. The judiciary's Mizan Online website had said she had been arrested trying to enter a stadium and faced charges of offending "public chastity and insulting" law enforcement officers.

She died of her injuries in a Tehran hospital after setting herself on fire outside a court.

Khodayari's death sparked an outcry online, with many calling on world football's governing body FIFA to ban Iran from international competitions and for fans to boycott matches.


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