It was a historic moment in Iran's history as Iranian women were finally allowed to enter the Azadi stadium in Tehran. After years of conservative rules and suppression, women bought tickets to a football match that saw their national team beat Cambodia with a 14-0 scoreline in a world cup qualifying match.
The incident witnessed women cheering on Iran by waving their national flags, shouting in support from a section specially reserved for women in the stadium.
The match also saw the women chanting "blue girl" to honour the girl who died protesting for her rights as a woman.
Incredible scenes from Azadi Stadium Iran. Iranian women sing for #BlueGirl, Sahar Khodayari, who died after setting herself on fire after learning she was to be sent to prison for trying to watch a football match, posing as a man https://t.co/SgKeNx07mu pic.twitter.com/mlj9T0aSv1— Joseph Willits (@josephwillits) October 10, 2019
In the events that preceded the historic moment, women were forbidden to enter football stadiums and watch men play since the 1979 Islamic revolution but a "message" from FIFA and human rights activists, concerned authorities relented and provided for a clear passage for their women to enter football stadiums.
In order to tackle the ban, world governing body, FIFA, had sent its representatives to analyze the progress with reference to the preparations that were being made to allow women to watch Iran's match against Cambodia. The organisation had wanted to avoid another incident such as the one where a girl immolated herself in front of a court in protest against Iranian authorities to let women inside stadiums.
Sahar Khodayari had feared for her life as she was scared that a jail term was imminent for her by the Iranian court after she was caught entering a football stadium dressed as a man. Sahar was given the title of the "blue girl" because of her favourite club, Esteghal.
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
According to reports, while the Azadi stadium has a seating capacity of around 80,000 people, only an estimated 4000 women watched the match. Although, there were a few women who were allowed to enter without tickets provided that they maintained the set 'decorum'.
While human rights activists have acknowledged Iran's decision, they are still unsure if such a historic moment will continue in the near future or not. In addition to this, FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, asked the concerned authorities in Iran to allow their women to watch every match instead of making it a rare occurrence in a football-loving country.
(With inputs from agencies)