FIFA: Iran must allow women into football games

Supporters hold a banner reading ‘Let Iranian women enter their stadiums’ during the football match between Sweden and Iran at the Friends Arena in Solna near Stockholm in this March 31, 2015 file photo. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2019

FIFA: Iran must allow women into football games

DUBAI: The ban on women attending football matches in Iran is “unacceptable” and must be lifted, the head of the sports’ world governing body said in a statement.

FIFA’s position is “clear and firm” and that women “have to be allowed” into football stadiums in the country, according to president Gianni Infantino.

Iran’s ban on women attending sports stadiums was put in place shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, despite international pressure to let them attend.

Infantino’s call comes shortly after the death of Sahar Khodayari, a female fan who set herself on fire after she was denied access to a football stadium in Tehran.

Khodayari, dubbed the “Blue Girl” because of the colors of the team she supported, Esteghlal FC, was detained and charged with “openly committing a sinful act” by “appearing in public without a hijab” after attempting to enter a stadium “dressed as a man” in March.

She died of her injuries on September 9 in a hospital after setting herself on fire outside a court earlier this month.

“I am hopeful that the Iranian Federation and the Iranian authorities were receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation,” Infantino said in a statement.

“I contacted them several times in the recent past and so has the FIFA administration. We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them.

“We understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October.”

Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar has asked the judiciary to investigate the circumstances of Khodayari’s death, although the department’s spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, has said that Khodayari “had clearly confessed her mistake during questioning, accepted it and expressed regret.”

FIFA has sent a letter to the to the Iranian Football Federation in June, requesting a timeline that would allow women to be able to buy tickets for World Cup qualifiers. Iran’s men’s national team takes on Cambodia in a World Cup qualifying game on October 10.


Saudi Arabia wins gold in GCC Women’s Championship

Updated 21 October 2019

Saudi Arabia wins gold in GCC Women’s Championship

KUWAIT: Saudi fencer Hasnaa Hammad on Monday earned her country its first medal on the second day of the GCC Women’s Championship in Kuwait.

She won the gold medal by beating Emirati Shahed Khurram 15 points to 6. Princess Nouf bint Khalid, head of the Saudi delegation, said what Hammad has achieved is evidence that Saudi sportswomen are capable of achieving victory and winning medals.

Meanwhile, the Saudi bowling team started competing, with Hadeel Termin topping the rankings of Saudi players in singles competition, and earning ninth position among 20 players from five countries.

Her teammates Mashael Alabdel Wahed ranked 13th, Ghada Nimr 17th and Amani Al-Ghamdi 18th.