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In a first after 2 years, Iran allows female fans to enter stadium for match

Iran last allowed its women to watch a sports match in 2019, but the ban on their presence in stadiums was imposed in 1979 after the country’s Islamic revolution wherein Muslim clerics said that women must be protected from masculine environment and images of semi-clad men.
Iranian women cheer during the World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C qualification football match between Iran and Cambodia at the Azadi stadium in the capital Tehran in October 2019. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP)
Published on Oct 04, 2021 09:07 PM IST
Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Iran has permitted its women nationals to enter a stadium for the first time in two years to watch the national football team take on South Korea in a World Cup 2022 qualifier. “The presence of women has been authorized for the match between the national football teams of Iran and South Korea,” AFP reported on Monday, citing the state-TV-linked Young Journalists Club. The match will be held at Azadi stadium on October 12.

The last time Iranian women were allowed to attend a football match was in 2019 when Iran won a match against Cambodia with a score of 14-0. As many as 3,500 women were able to watch the match in 2019 in the 80,000-seat Azadi stadium.

There has been a year-long prohibition on supporters’ attendance at stadiums regardless of gender due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19). However, female audiences have always been capped by the country’s government, AFP reported.

In 2019 when Iranian women took to the Azadi stadium as supporters, it was a scene of exuberance with visuals showing elated fans cheering for their national team.

The ban on women supporters was imposed in 1979 after Iran’s Islamic revolution wherein Muslim clerics stated that women must be protected from masculine environment, inappropriate male behaviour and images of semi-robed men. However, it is not written into law or regulations, according to FP.

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On the road to the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar – the first time the event is being held in an Arab nation, FIFA has reportedly come down heavily on Iran for its hardline conservative views. This was presumably the reason behind the country allowing female fans to attend the Iran versus Cambodia match in 2019, although the Iran government dismissed the report. The government had instead stated that the decision was triggered due to “internal social demands and government’s support of those demands,” AFP had reported.

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