Iran detains 35 women for going to football match

Posted March 04, 2018

Gianni Infantino, head of football's world governing body, Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), has said that has given him assurance that it will soon allow its women to attend soccer matches.

The letter concluded, "On behalf of all Iranian women that love football and merely want to attend matches to support their teams of choice, we urge you to take the necessary disciplinary action against the FFIRI [Iran's football federation] or others as required to protect our rights".

The remarks come after the Iranian Interior Ministry said about 35 women were prevented from entering Tehran's Azadi Stadium on March 1 for a match and "were instructed to a proper place by police".

"I was promised that women in Iran will have access to [soccer] stadiums soon", Infantino said on March 2 at the Zurich headquarters of Federation Internationale de Football Association, the sport's world governing body.

When a journalist asked Soltanifar, who was stood next to Infantino, when women would be allowed to attend football matches, their live broadcast was immediately taken off the air.

In a statement emailed to VOA Persian Friday, FIFA said it is "strongly committed to promoting the protection of human rights including especially the right of women to attend football matches".

On Wednesday, one day before the scheduled game, Iranian women's rights activist Masih Alinejad called on her female colleagues to gather outside the stadium in an attempt to bring Infantino's attention to the long-running controversy.

"The people of Iran, like any other nation, have the right to cheer their teams at their stadiums, and we, as the global federation of football, will try to defend this right", Infantino added.

"There are of course political issues between countries all over the world but this should not have an impact", he said.

This has forced Iranian footballers to play their home games against Saudi teams in Oman.

Rouhani's official website quoted him as telling Infantino that Iran "always has tried to provide more and more access to sport". Safai is the founder of "Let Iranian women enter their stadiums", a campaign to end gender discrimination at Iranian sporting venues.

The group was spotted even though some of them were dressed as men.

Iranian women watch the Iranian men's basketball team play Iraq in a FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifier at Azadi Indoor Stadium in Tehran, Feb. 25, 2018. They were seated in a separate section from the male fans. Or we go there and have a discussion and try to convince the leaders of the country that they should give [women] access to stadiums.