FIFA President Gianni Infantino has told Iran that it is time to allow women into football stadiums and that the world football body expects “positive developments” from the next home game in October.
While foreign women have been allowed limited access to matches, Iranian women have been banned from entering stadiums when they have played in men’s teams since just after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Infantino said in a FIFA statement that he hoped the Iranian football federation and government authorities would be receptive to “our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation.”
He added: “Our position is clear and firm. Women must be allowed into Iran’s football stadiums. Now is the time to change things and FIFA hopes for a positive development from Iran’s next home game in October.”
Iran, who have qualified for five World Cup finals, including the last two, will host Cambodia on 10 October in their first home match of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
This month, a fan died after setting herself on fire to protest her arrest for attending a match.
Sahar Khodayari, nicknamed “Blue Girl” by the colours of her favourite team, died in hospital after immolating herself in front of a court where she feared a six-month prison sentence would be handed down after attending the match disguised as a man.
Yesterday’s Esteghlal camp.
Women are not allowed to enter to team’s camps either. pic.twitter.com/v6kdBEC7IE
— OpenStadiums (@openStadiums) July 3, 2019
Khodayari’s death has caused widespread outrage in Iran and the rest of the world, prompting appeals on social networks for FIFA to suspend or ban the Iranian football federation.
Critics say FIFA’s own statutes punish gender discrimination with suspension or expulsion.
There have been indications that the situation of women fans in Iran was changing when a group of women was allowed to attend the second leg of the AFC Champions League final in Tehran last November, a match in which Infantino was present.
However, women fans have since been denied access to matches. In Iran’s friendly against Syria in June, women were excluded from the Azadi stadium and detained by security forces.
Infantino said a FIFA delegation is now in Iran. “I can’t wait to hear good news from them,” he said.