Historic for Iran Women, Female Football Fans Allowed in Stadiums
It’s a small but historic victory for women in Iran as a long campaign has fructified – female football fans can now watch men’s games in the stadium. FIFA had been in talks with the Islamic Republic of Iran Football Federation to make this possible for Iranian women to watch and enjoy sports matches live.
The global governing body was made aware of the plight of Iranian women by Open Stadiums, a women’s rights group, and former Iranian athletes in 2022. The activists had called on FIFA to ban Iran from the World Cup because of continued exclusion of Iranian women from football matches.
But Gianni Infantino, FIFA President, took it upon himself to personally take up this issue. He believes in FIFA’s policy of engagement with Iran over the treatment of women in football. The executive highlighted that Iran is a significant force in Asian football and it was important for him to ensure they continue to nurture the positive and fruitful working relationship they have built.
FIFA and Iran Talks
“In September, I had the pleasure of meeting Iran President Ebrahim Raisi in New York City, where we discussed the development of women’s football in the country and progress made regarding the presence of women in football stadiums. Thanks to the ongoing dialogue between FIFA and the Islamic Republic of Iran Football Federation, progress is being made.”
And now, Iranian women football enthusiasts can avail the 3,000 tickets set aside especially for them to watch and enjoy one of the biggest games in Iran between city rivals Persepolis and Esteghlal.
Open Stadiums applauded this as a historic day. “101 Derby passed until finally some female fans could attend the most crowded football match in Iran. Historical day for women’s rights activists and the fight for equal access to public spaces will continue.”
FIFA is also working on helping Iran open up to women’s football. Infantino said Iran will be able to exploit the expertise and resources of FIFA’s Talent Development Scheme and Women’s Football Development Programme.
Iran Women Rights
Recent years have been very tough for women in Iran. 2022 saw Iran engulfed in protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody for not wearing the hijab properly. The human rights situation in Iran took a hit as the government cracked down on protesters.
In March 2022, Iranian authorities cracked down on women for entering the Imam Reza football stadium. They also used excessive force. Over the last 40 years, Iranian authorities have banned women from attending football and other sports in stadiums, and this is now slowly changing.