Soccer

FIFA boss Gianni Infantino says Iran has assured that women can attend qualifier

AP, AFP-JIJI

FIFA President Gianni Infantino says soccer’s governing body has been “assured” that Iran will lift its 40-year ban and allow women to attend a World Cup qualifying game next month.

FIFA wants Iran to end its ban on women entering stadiums that breaches international soccer statutes prohibiting discrimination.

Global attention on the ban followed the death this month of a 29-year-old activist, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire outside a courthouse.

FIFA officials travelled to Iran ahead of the weekend for talks on the matter of women and football and released a statement Sunday.

“FIFA has reiterated its firm and clear position that women need to be allowed to enter football matches freely and that the number of women who attend the stadiums be determined by the demand, resulting in ticket sales,” it said.

At a FIFA conference on women’s football on Sunday, Infantino said: “We have been assured, that as of the next international game of Iran, women will be allowed to enter football stadiums.”

Iran hosts Cambodia at the 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10.

Infantino added that “It is 40 years that this has not happened, with a couple of exceptions, but it is important to move to the next level and to the next stage.”

The Islamic republic has barred female spectators from football and other stadiums since 1981, with clerics arguing they must be protected from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semiclad men.

Khodayari, dubbed “blue girl” because of the colors of the team she supported, Esteghlal FC, was reportedly detained last year when trying to enter a stadium dressed as a man to watch them play.

She died of her injuries in a Tehran hospital after setting herself on fire outside a court in early September.

Khodayari’s detah sparked an outcry online, with many calling on FIFA to ban Iran from international competitions and for fans to boycott matches.

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