Thousands of Iranian women fans can now attend a football match freely for the very first time in decades, after FIFA, threatens to suspend the country over its controversial male-only policy. Reportedly the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) ordered Iran to end the ban on letting women enter stadiums during an inspection visit last month. The organisation stated that the ban breached with the international soccer statutes prohibiting discrimination.
Iran’s ban on women attending sports stadiums is not written into law but was put in place shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. With only 100 Iranian women handpicked to watch the friendly match against Bolivia on October 2001, the prosecutor general warned there would be no re[eat, saying that it would “lead to sin”. However, since then the entering of women into Tehran’s Azadi Stadium has been prohibited. The push by FIFA to request the change by the Iranian authorities was led by a mixture of social media pressure and the death of a fan dubbed the “Blue Girl” who set herself on fire in the fear of persecution for dressing up as a boy in order to attend a match.
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Anajulikana kama “blue Girl” Sahar Khodayari alikua shabiki mkubwa wa timu ya taifa ya Iran. ⚽️Alipambana sana ili wanawake waruhusiwe kuingia uwanjani.⚽️ Walimwita “Blue Girl” rangi ya timu aliyoipenda zaidi. Siku moja alijaribu kuingia uwanja wa mpira akijifanya mwanaume. Lakini walimkamata. Alipogundua atakaa jela alijiwasha moto nje ya mahakama huko Tehran… Baada ya kufariki💔 Mwezi mmoja baadae maelfu ya wanawake wa Iran waliingia uwanjani kushuhudia mpira kwa mara ya kwanza baada ya FIFA kutishia kuiondoa Iran kutokana na sera yake ya wanaume pekee. 💙🌹Asante Blue Girl Utakumbukwa daima💙🌹 📸chacha #bbc100women #bluegirl #iran
Even though the ban has been lifted it not all rosy for the Iranian Female fans.
According to CNN, the women are to be segregated from men and watched over by 150 female police officers. Fencing has also been created to designate women-only sections, taking away the freedom of choice. With the capacity of 78,000 people, women have only merely been able to secure 3500 tickets, with more making the journey from further parts of Iran like Ahvaz to be part of this historical moment.
However, FIFA has held its ground stating that “ FIFA’s stance on the access of women to the stadiums in Iran has been firm and clear, women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran, for all matches. We reaffirm our position that the number of women in the stadium needs to be determined by the demands for such tickets, without any arbitrary limitation being imposed”. Even though there is still a long way to go in the #NoBan4Women moment, Iranian women can finally rejoice in the fact that they achieved a massive victory.