Features

Historic Moment for Iran as Women Allowed into Stadium to Watch Football

October 10, 2019
IranWire
2 min read
For the first time in 40 years, women were allowed in Azadi Stadium to watch a football match
For the first time in 40 years, women were allowed in Azadi Stadium to watch a football match
Female fans were elated to attend the match after a 40-year ban
Female fans were elated to attend the match after a 40-year ban
Iranian fans arrived at Azadi Stadium in a celebratory mood
Iranian fans arrived at Azadi Stadium in a celebratory mood
About 4,000 women attended the match between Iran and Cambodia
About 4,000 women attended the match between Iran and Cambodia
The mood at Azadi Stadium was celebratory
The mood at Azadi Stadium was celebratory
It was the first time Iran's national team was able to play in front of both male and female fans
It was the first time Iran's national team was able to play in front of both male and female fans
Iran faced Cambodia at Azadi Stadium
Iran faced Cambodia at Azadi Stadium
Female fans were delighted to show their support for their team in person
Female fans were delighted to show their support for their team in person
Fans arrived at the stadium in a festive mood, many of them with vuvuzelas and Iranian flags
Fans arrived at the stadium in a festive mood, many of them with vuvuzelas and Iranian flags
About 4,000 female fans watched the match
About 4,000 female fans watched the match
Women joined men in cheering on Iran's national football team
Women joined men in cheering on Iran's national football team
Iranian women fans have been waiting decades to watch the Iranian national football team in Azadi Stadium
Iranian women fans have been waiting decades to watch the Iranian national football team in Azadi Stadium
For 40 years, women have not been allowed to enter stadiums — apart from a select few for limited numbers of matches
For 40 years, women have not been allowed to enter stadiums — apart from a select few for limited numbers of matches
The crowds were buoyant at the October match between Iran and Cambodia
The crowds were buoyant at the October match between Iran and Cambodia
FIFA had given Iran a deadline of October 10 to start opening its doors to all female fans
FIFA had given Iran a deadline of October 10 to start opening its doors to all female fans
Female fans joined male fans to watch the match at Azadi Stadium
Female fans joined male fans to watch the match at Azadi Stadium
Female fans celebrated alongside male fans at Azadi Stadium
Female fans celebrated alongside male fans at Azadi Stadium
FIFA demanded that women be allowed to watch Iran play Cambodia
FIFA demanded that women be allowed to watch Iran play Cambodia
Instead of being forced to stay outside the stadium, Iranian women were allowed to watch the match
Instead of being forced to stay outside the stadium, Iranian women were allowed to watch the match
Female fans cheered on their team with vuvuzelas and by wearing the national team colors
Female fans cheered on their team with vuvuzelas and by wearing the national team colors
Female fans celebrated a lift on them entering stadiums for the first time in 40 years
Female fans celebrated a lift on them entering stadiums for the first time in 40 years
At the entrance of Azadi Stadium
At the entrance of Azadi Stadium
Instead of being blocked from buying tickets to the match, women were allowed to purchase them for the first time
Instead of being blocked from buying tickets to the match, women were allowed to purchase them for the first time

For the first time in 40 years, Iranian women have been allowed into a stadium to watch football — and it’s not only a selected few. 

Female fans joined male fans at Azadi Stadium in Tehran on October 10 to cheer on Iran’s national football team, which faced Cambodia in a qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup. Finally, after years of protests and campaigns, they have been able to enjoy the simple right of watching their team play. 

 

 

During the game, however, one woman spectator, who carried a banner calling herself  “A Blue Girl," was arrested. She reportedly resisted officers for 10 minutes, and others around her in the stadium tried to prevent the arrest, but without success.

The "Blue Girl" is a reference to Sahar Khodayari, a female supporter of Esteghlal Football Club, who set herself on fire outside a Tehran courthouse after she discovered she faced a prison term for trying to enter a stadium. She died a few days later. 

Women have been banned from entering stadiums to watch football and other sports since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. Authorities have argued that it is improper and immoral for women and male fans to watch sports together, and that women’s dignity would be under threat if they did. Since then, women have faced this ban, but also harassment and arrest for trying to enter stadiums, or for protesting outside them. Some women have also disguised themselves as men to be able to attend matches. 

But under international sporting federation regulations, including those of the international football governing body FIFA, all individuals should share the same rights, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Everyone has the right to watch football in a stadium.

 

Iranian women celebrated the first time they’ve been allowed to enter a football stadium since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Iran-Cambodia game started at 16:30 local time, 08:00 EST

 

For years, FIFA and the international community has urged Iran and its football federation to abide by international sporting codes of conduct or face suspension from playing in international competitions. Iran has tried to fool the public and sporting authorities by allowing small groups of handpicked women into stadiums. 

Prior to the match, the commander of the National Police Special Units told Fars News Agency that it had "taken the necessary precaution for controlling women.”

Iranian authorities have made it clear they disagree with the move. But for now, Iranian women fans are elated. 

 

300 female secret police agents were deployed to supervise women entering Azadi Stadium

 

Iranian police asked women to have “100% cooperation” with them, and for women who don’t have tickets to leave the area

 

 

First woman: I hope we can watch all the games, including domestic games and derbies, in stadiums

 Second woman: I think my granddaughter will despair at the thought that her grandmother had to be up for 48 hours in order to get a football ticket! We should be able to watch all games, not only the ones supervised by FIFA

 

Iranian women finally entered Iranian stadiums. With the game starting soon, women cheered for their national team

 

Undercover female police officers supervised women watching football at Azadi Stadium 

 

Iranian women enter Azadi stadium. The aisle seats were allocated to female security agents, who monitored the female spectators

 

Hundreds of women in Azadi Football Stadium counted down the minutes until the game got underway

When the game started, there was a party atmosphere among female football fans in the stadium. The sound of vuvuzelas was everywhere, and fans danced to the beats of Iranian pop songs

A very happy female football fan waves the Iranian flag from out of her car window on her way home from Azadi Stadium

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