TEHRAN, Iran — A FIFA delegation visited Tehran on Friday to discuss allowing female spectators into soccer games, the official news agency IRNA reported, days after a public row over a female fan who killed herself.
“The FIFA delegation first visited the sports ministry and talked to officials and the soccer federation on the presence of women in (Tehran’s) Azadi stadium,” IRNA said.
It said federation officials told the visiting team that preparations have been made for women to attend soccer games and they would “officially” be allowed to enter for the October 10 Iran-Cambodia game.
“The delegation then visited the stadium… and inspected entry gates and stands set up for women,” the agency added.
The Islamic Republic has barred female spectators from soccer and other stadiums since 1981, with clerics arguing they must be protected from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.
Sahar Khodayari, dubbed “blue girl” because of the colors of the team she supported, Esteghlal FC, was reportedly detained last year when trying to enter a stadium dressed as a man to watch them.
She died of her injuries in a Tehran hospital after setting herself on fire outside a court in early September.
Hey @FIFAcom a girl who couldn't enter an #Iranian stadium to watch #soccer set herself on fire & died today. Shouldn't you disqualify any nation that exercises #genderapartheid? Hey male fans: Shouldn't you stop going to stadiums in solidarity with your sisters & wives? #دخترآبی pic.twitter.com/ia2MeUiY9N
— Roya Hakakian (@RoyaTheWriter) September 10, 2019
The death of Khodayari sparked an outcry online, with many calling on world soccer’s governing body FIFA to ban Iran from international competitions and for fans to boycott matches.
Iran has come under pressure from FIFA to allow women to attend qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, and it was reportedly given a deadline of August 31 to comply.