Today, after a nearly four-decade ban on women attending soccer matches in Iran, the stands in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium were filled with female fans cheering on the Iranian national team as it crushed Cambodia 14-0. A qualifying match for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the sparsely attended game probably wouldn’t have attracted much attention were it not for the relaxing of the ban by Iran’s theocratic government. As the AP notes, Iran was the last country to still ban women from matches.
Photos from the day show a jubilant crowd, albeit with a female police force surrounding the segregated women.
The occasion arose out of tragedy. Last month, a woman named Sahar Khodayari self-immolated in protest after she was arrested trying to enter a match in Tehran. On social media she was referred to as #bluegirl, a nod to the colors of Esteghlal FC, the local team she supported, reports the New York Times.
I wish Iran's #BlueGirl could hear her name being chanted by women and men in Azadi Stadium. She died from self-immolation after being arrested for trying to take back her right to enter that stadium. pic.twitter.com/En5OMEBZsB
— Jasmin Ramsey (@JasminRamsey) October 10, 2019
Reuters notes that is wasn’t until FIFA pressured the Iranian government that female spectators were allowed. It also appears that the ban will only be lifted for FIFA matches, not domestic league games.
Iranian nurse Zahra Pashaei, center, cheers during a 2022 World Cup qualifier soccer match between Iran and Cambodia on Oct. 10.
Iranian women follow the 2022 World Cup qualifier soccer match between Iran and Cambodia as female police officers (left) stand nearby at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.
Female football fans show their support ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifier match between Iran and Cambodia at Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10.
Female soccer fans show their support ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Iran and Cambodia at Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10.
A woman blows a vuvuzela at Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10.
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