03/30/2022, 17.13
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Iran bans women from stadiums, again

Women were not allowed to attend the last World Cup qualifying match played yesterday in Mashhad. Out of 12,500 tickets sold online, at least 2,000 were reserved for women. Women stage a protest outside the stadium for a right won after a long struggle. For a local Islamic leader, women’s presence is a form of “vulgarity”.

Tehran (AsiaNews) –  Iranian authorities have again banned women from entering stadiums to watch football matches, overturning a long battle that saw a young woman set herself on fire in protest and die.

Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, women have been excluded from all sporting events and venues where men compete in teams or individually.

According to reports from the semi-official ISNA news agency, women were banned from attending the last qualifying match for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, set for the end of the year.

Iran has already qualified for the competition, the first country in Asia to do so. However, FIFA, the world football governing body, had ordered Iran to allow women access to stadiums as a prerequisite for admitting its team’s participation in the competition.

Local sources say that out of 12,500 tickets sold online, at least 2,000 were reserved for women for a game played with Lebanon in the north-eastern city of Mashhad, which ended with two nil score in favour of the home team.

A video circulating on social media shows hundreds of female soccer fans chanting “we object” in response to the decision to ban them from attending the match.

So far no one has taken responsibility for the ban. Khabaronline, an Iranian news website, said that “despite tickets being sold, women are still not allowed to attend [matches at] the stadium.”

Ahmad Alamolhoda, Friday prayer leader in Mashhad, who was appointed by the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said he was always against women’s presence as spectators in men’s sports competitions. In his view their attendance is a form of “vulgarity.”

In a post-match interview, team captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh said it would be great to see women in stadiums in the future because they too enjoy seeing the country’s team.

For the first time in decades, hundreds of Iranian women were allowed to attend the Asian Champions League final match in 2019 between Persepolis and the Japanese Kashima Antlers in Tehran.

Last January, more than 2,000 women went to Azadi stadium to watch the match in which Iran defeated Iraq and clinched a spot at the World Cup.

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