A young woman who was arrested by police in March 2019 when she tried to enter Tehran’s Azadi Stadium to watch a football game has set herself on fire outside a Tehran courthouse.

According to the news site Rokna, on the afternoon of Monday, September 2, emergency services were dispatched after they were alerted that a woman had poured gasoline on herself after leaving the courthouse, shouting that she had been treated unjustly, and then set herself on fire. She is reported to be in critical condition.

The woman, 29, was arrested in March as she tried to enter Azadi Stadium to watch the team she supports, Esteghlal FC, play United Arab Emirates team Al Ain. Three months prior to her arrest, Maziar Nazemi, head of the sports ministry’s public relations office, proudly tweeted: “When [FIFA President] Gianni Infantino came to Tehran to watch the finals of the Asian Champions League, he expressed regret that he had not brought his wife and daughter to Tehran and to Azadi Stadium.”

But three months later, when this Iranian woman arrived at the same stadium to watch an Asian Champions League qualifying game, she was arrested. According to her sister, police prevented her from entering the stadium, and when she resisted they arrested her.

She told Rokna that her sister, who has not been named, suffers from bipolar disorder and has been undergoing treatment under the supervision of a specialist for the last two years. “We have a complete set of documents about my sister’s illness and gave it to the court but, unfortunately, after my sister objected to the agents’ treatment of her and called them names, the court treated her as if she was a normal person [without mental health issues],” she said.

The sister, who has also not been named, said the judge had sent her sister to Varamin Prison, where the prison environment had aggravated her mental condition. “My sister lived in terror until she was released on bail,” she said. “But when she went to the courthouse to get back her mobile phone, by chance she heard that she had been sentenced to six months in prison. With her aggravated and difficult mental conditions, she set herself on fire and is now in critical condition at the hospital.”

A judiciary official told Rokna that the woman has also been charged with “bad hijab,” “insulting police officers” and “acting against public modesty.” On Monday, September 2, the official stated, “This woman came to court for the first session of hearings but the court’s president was off on that day because a relative of his had passed away, so another date was set to start the hearings. As a protest against this action, the young woman set herself on fire outside the courthouse with gasoline that she had acquired beforehand.”

The doctor supervising at Motahari Burns Hospital reported that the woman has suffered 90 percent burns on her body and is breathing with the help of a respirator.

Mehdi Taj, the president of Iran’s Football Federation, had promised FIFA that Iranian women would be allowed into sports stadiums but, on August 12, several women who had protested against the ban on women in stadiums were arrested by Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence agents at the request of Mehdi Taj himself. Other female football fans who had been arrested on previous occasions are awaiting court verdicts.


Related Coverage:

Iran Attempts to Fool FIFA, August 27, 2019

Iran Jails Female Football Fans, August 16, 2019

Decoding Iran’s Politics: Football and State Interference, June 11, 2019

150 Female Fans Allowed into Azadi Stadium, October 19, 2018

Women Arrested as Authorities Step up CCTV Surveillance at Azadi Stadium, September 28, 2018

Women Enter Stadium as Fans Refuse to Go Home, June 20, 2018

Women in Stadiums: The Ban Continues — Except for a Select Few, February 18, 2018

The Poet, the Woman and the Football Fan, December 31, 2017

Is Khamenei Afraid to Contradict Grand Ayatollahs?, December 13, 2017

Ayatollah Gives Thumbs Down to Women in Stadiums, December 12, 2017

Iranian Women Banned from “Freedom” Stadium — Again, September 6, 2017

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