An Iranian football fan, who caught fire last week after being arrested for sneaking into a stadium dressed as a man, died from her injuries, causing outrage in the world of sport.
Shafaqna, a semi-official news agency, said the woman, known on the Internet as “Blue Girl” for the colors of her favorite team, Esteghlal, died in the hospital Monday after setting herself on fire in front of a courthouse in fear that she would be jailed for six months.
Iranian women cannot attend stadiums when men’s teams play, a measure decreed after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Foreigners have limited access.
“Her only ‘crime’ was to be a woman in a country where women face discrimination rooted in the law and presented in the most horrible way imaginable in every area of their lives, including in sports,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director of research and advocacy for the Middle East, said in a statement.
Iran claims that Western criticism of human rights is politically motivated and based on a lack of understanding of its Islamic laws.
Football’s governing body, FIFA, which has been pressuring Iran to lift the ban, mourned Khodayari’s death.
“FIFA conveys its condolences to Sahar’s family and friends, and reiterates our calls to the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any woman involved in this legitimate struggle to end the stadium ban on women in Iran,” he added in a statement.
The Italian club Roma also expressed their sorrow for Khodayari. “ASROME is yellow and red, but today our heart bleeds blue for Sahar Khodayari. Beautiful football is to unite us, not to divide us,” he tweet. “Now is the time for everyone in Iran to enjoy football matches together.
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