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150 Female Fans Allowed into Azadi Stadium

October 19, 2018
IranWire
2 min read
Although the federation handpicked the women allowed to attend the match, activists hailed the move as a good first step
Although the federation handpicked the women allowed to attend the match, activists hailed the move as a good first step
The female fans arrived to watch the match between Iran and Bolivia on October 16
The female fans arrived to watch the match between Iran and Bolivia on October 16
For almost 40 years, women have been banned from watching sport in stadiums when men are present
For almost 40 years, women have been banned from watching sport in stadiums when men are present
The 150 fans allowed in were taken to a specially-reserved area of the stadium
The 150 fans allowed in were taken to a specially-reserved area of the stadium
Women have been fighting for the right to support their teams for decades
Women have been fighting for the right to support their teams for decades
The women sat in a specially-reserved section of the stadium, away from male fans
The women sat in a specially-reserved section of the stadium, away from male fans
Female fans have repeatedly staged protests outside Azadi, demanding their rights be upheld
Female fans have repeatedly staged protests outside Azadi, demanding their rights be upheld
Conservatives have long stood against the idea of women being allowed into stadiums to watch football
Conservatives have long stood against the idea of women being allowed into stadiums to watch football
The football federation chose 150 women to attend the match. Most of them were athletes themselves
The football federation chose 150 women to attend the match. Most of them were athletes themselves

On Tuesday, October 16, Iranian women were officially allowed into a stadium to watch a football match following a decades-long ban.

The small contingent of 150 women attended the friendly between Iran and Bolivia at Tehran’s Azadi (“Freedom”) Stadium, despite vehement and continuing opposition from the country’s religious conservatives.

The female football fans were handpicked by Iran’s football federation and were mostly athletes themselves. They entered the stadium via specific entrances reserved for them and sat in specially-reserved areas. They also had access to toilet facilities exclusively for their use. 

Reformist and moderate media and newspapers lamented the fact that only a limited number of women had been allowed to watch the game, but they applauded the federation’s “step forward.”

Conservatives have long stood against the idea of women being allowed into stadiums to watch football, and the recent measure taken by the federation did nothing to change their minds. “When a woman goes to the stadium and sees half-naked men, it's a sin,” said Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, Iran’s chief prosecutor, the day after the game. "The presence of women in stadiums is harmful and there's no religious justification for it.” He warned that action will be taken "if such moves continue.”

Women have been banned from entering stadiums where men are present — either as members of the audience or athletes — since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. As recently as September 27, two young women were arrested as they tried to enter Azadi Stadium to watch a football game. Over the last 40 years, women have persistently staged protests outside Azadi and other stadiums, peacefully demanding their right to watch sporting competitions, a right that is enshrined in the Olympic Charter and upheld by most sportiting federations around the globe. 

Girls and women have also disguised themselves as men to enter stadiums in order to support their teams, often putting themselves at great personal risk. 

Despite the intense and heated opposition to the recent move to allow women in the stadium, the spokesman for the football federation said that women might possibly be permitted to watch the Asian Champions League (AFC) match between Iran’s Persepolis football team and Qatar’s Al-Sadd, scheduled for Tuesday, October 23. 

By the way, Iran won the game 2-1.

 

A citizen journalist sent these photographs to IranWire

 

 

More on the ban of Iranian women from stadiums:

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

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

"I Was There!": Defying the Ban on Women in Stadiums, February 17, 2017

The Girl Who Sneaked into Azadi Stadium, May 16, 2016

Women in Stadiums: The Ban Continues — Except for a Select Few, February 18, 2016

"Women’s presence in stadiums promotes prostitution", June 15, 2015

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