'Resistance to discrimination' - Iranian women ready for stadium bow

Iranian women allowed to watch live football match

Federation Internationale de Football Association has previously threatened to issue sanctions against Iran in the event that it failed to allow women to attend matches; however, it's unclear exactly what those measures would entail.

The Islamic republic has barred feminine spectators from soccer and other stadiums for round 40 years, with clerics arguing they ought to silent be shielded from the masculine ambiance and ogle of semi-clad men.

The change comes after an Iranian woman set herself on fire and died last month, as she faced charges arising from her trying to enter the stadium to watch a match.

"Iran's decision to allow a token number of women into the stadium for tomorrow's football match is a cynical publicity stunt by the authorities meant to whitewash their image following the global outcry over Sahar Khodayari's tragic death", Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, said in a statement.

"Anything short of a full reversal of the ban on women accessing all football stadiums is an insult to Sahar Khodayari's memory and an affront to the rights of all the women of Iran who have been courageously campaigning for the ban to be lifted", Luther added.

Women were permitted to buy about 3,500 tickets to watch a World Cup qualifier between the men's teams of Iran and Cambodia.

And Khodayari's father told Mehr news agency that she did not "sacrifice" herself for any cause.


Raha Poorbakhsh, a football journalist, is one of the 3,500 women to have secured a ticket. "I still can't believe this is going to happen, because after all these years of working in this field, watching everything on television, now I can experience everything in person", she told the outlet.

Using the hashtag #WakeUpFifa, women have taken to social media to demand more tickets.

At first, just two blocks of the stadium went on sale to women via the internet, then quickly, due to the brisk sales, another two blocks were opened up for them.

"The women's visit to the stadium is the first success of their resistance to discrimination", tweeted Iranian politician Shahrbanoo Amani.

Ahead of Qatar 2022, Federation Internationale de Football Association has pressed Iran to allow women to attend qualifiers.

The ban has been in place since 1979's Islamic revolution, with only small groups of women allowed to attend a handful of matches in recent years.

But the ultra-conservative Kayhan daily said women were more concerned about economic issues.

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