In June the leaders of FIFA had threatened the exclusion of the Iranian team from the tournament. The first match at the Azadi stadium in Tehran is Iran versus Cambodia. In June, security forces stopped a group of women as they tried to enter the grandstand for a friendly against Syria.
Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Tehran opens its doors to the stadiums for women: in October, in fact, even female football fans will be able to watch the qualifying matches of the national team, ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar .
The decision follows some timid openings and is the object of fierce criticism of the internal radical wing, combined with the diplomatic pressure of Fifa, the governing body of world football that has long been demanding equal access between the sexes.
In an official note published by the Irna agency and signed by the Iranian Ministry of Sport confirmed the move yesterday. In June, the FIFA leaders had sent a letter to the Iranian Football Federation (Ffiri), asking for a date to be set that guaranteed the right for women to buy tickets for qualifying matches.
Fifa President Gianni Infantino had called for "decisive steps" with a view to free access. In the event of non-compliance, the governing body of world football had even threatened exclusion from qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. An event for which Iran had offered help to Doha to host the various world delegations.
On 25 August the Iranian Deputy Sports Minister Jamshid Taghizadeh confirmed that "women can go to the Azadi stadium in Tehran to watch the match between Iran and Cambodia in October", a valid match "for the World Cup qualifiers".
In recent months, the Asian Football Federation (Afc) has mediated between Iran and Fifa to reach a "friendly solution" that allows women to go to the stadium. "There are no legal impediments - the deputy minister added - to women watching the matches. And the infrastructure modification process has already started".
For decades the ayatollah regime has imposed the complete ban on women at sporting events in which men compete; some partial exceptions were reserved for foreigners, but these were occasional and limited permits.
Conservatives have claimed that the ban on women attending major men's sporting events protects them from hearing crude language and seeing male athletes wearing revealing uniforms.
Women's rights activists have blasted the ban as an example of gender discrimination in the Islamic republic, where Islamic laws deny women equal rights in divorce, child custody, and work.
In the past women's rights activists had promoted protest campaigns and demonstrations to secure access to the stadium. In June, security forces stopped a group of women as they tried to get into the stands to watch the friendly match against Syria.
Last year, defying the ban, a group of young people disguised themselves men to get around the ban and enter the stadium. The images, posted on social media, went viral around world. At the beginning of August the authorities had ordered the arrest of some of the members of this group; in recent days the news of their release has arrived on payment of a deposit.