Iran: About 2,000 women deprived of football stadium for a match against Lebanon

Iran has again denied women entry to a soccer stadium to watch the match between their country’s national teams and Lebanon, Iranian media reported on Wednesday. The match, won by the Iranian selection 2-0, took place Tuesday evening at the Imam Reza stadium in the city of Mashhad, in the northeast of the country. “About 2,000 Iranian women, who had bought tickets for the Iran-Lebanon match, were present in the perimeter of the Imam Reza stadium, but could not enter the stadium,” the ISNA news agency said.

“For this match, 12,500 tickets were sold, including 2,000 for women,” added the news agency. “I apologize that many people could not enter the stadium and watch the football match between the national teams of Iran and Lebanon,” Mohsen Davari, governor of Mashhad, told Iranian state television. IRIB. “Unfortunately, it was not possible for a large number of people outside to enter the stadium,” he added.

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Faced with the outcry over this incident, Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi ordered Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi to follow up on the matter. ‘Team Melli’ captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh said on Tuesday, according to IRIB: “I don’t think anything would have happened if women had come to the stadium, and on the contrary it can help our culture.”

For his part, Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri ruled on Wednesday on the radio that “if the conditions allowed the sale of tickets to women, a suitable place had to be found for them”. Iranian women were allowed to attend a national team football match in January for the first time in nearly three years during the World Cup qualifiers between Iran and Iraq.

For 40 years, the Islamic republic has generally prohibited female spectators from attending football matches. The clerics, who play a major role in decision-making, argue that women should be protected from the masculine atmosphere and from the sight of men in sportswear, and whose bodies are therefore partially visible.

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Fifa, which had ordered Iran in September 2019 to allow women’s access to stadiums without restriction, expressed its “concern” about the Mashhad incident, and “calls on the Iranian Federation football more information about it”.

The world body’s 2019 directive threatening Iran with suspension came after a fan died of setting herself on fire for fear of being jailed for trying to attend a game . In 2018, she was arrested when she tried to enter a stadium dressed as a boy. His death had sparked an outcry and many had called for Iran to be banned from competition.

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