FIFA on September 11 announced that officials from their side will visit Iran to have a look at the preparations taking place to allow Iranian women to watch a FIFA World Cup qualifying match due in October. According to reports, the delegation from FIFA will be comprised of three members. Though the exact date of their visit has not been mentioned, the visit is expected to happen sometime before the qualifying match in October.
The announcement comes a week after an Iranian football fan set herself on fire outside a court and died after being told she would be jailed for six months for trying to enter a stadium in Tehran dressed as a man. Sahar Khodayari was arrested after she was caught entering a football stadium in Iran dressed as a man to watch her favorite team play.
This incident led to an outrage on social media platforms with many asking the federation to ban Iran from any FIFA sanctioned competition and fans to boycott matches to show their solidarity towards a girl fighting for her rights. Khodayari was also dubbed as the "blue girl" because of the colors of her favorite football club Esteghal FC.
Our dear Sahar burnt herself to death, when she was charged to 6 month in jail for ... going to the stadium to support her #Esteghlal.— Esteghlal (@EsteghlalFC_En) September 9, 2019
She supported us despite the politics made it illegal for her, but what we do can do to support her? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
We are cowards. pic.twitter.com/VTKKa0jvIN
Foreign women have had restricted access to watch football matches in the Islamic Republic but Iranian women have been prohibited from watching any football match since the Islamic revolution in the year 1979 with the men from Iran saying that their women needed to be protected from this manly atmosphere and a view of men playing in shorts.
Iran received a lot of flak from FIFA for not permitting their women to watch the qualifying matches for the 2022 world cup in Qatar and was apparently given an ultimatum to give the football federation a time frame that will result in women being able to buy the match tickets. Not complying will result in Iran facing consequences that will not be pretty for them.
With respect to this, Iran's Sports Deputy Minister Jamshid Taghizadeh stated that women will be allowed to go and watch the match between Iran and Cambodia at Tehran's Azadi stadium on October 10.
The ban on women in stadiums is not written into law or regulations, but is "ruthlessly enforced", said Human Rights Watch, calling it a "clear violation of the rules in FIFA".
(With inputs from PTI)