World Half Full
Female footy fans score
After more than four decades, women are able to enter football stadiums in Iran. Previously barred by Islamic clerics due to the game’s culture of masculinity, the ban was overturned after FIFA threatened to suspend Iran from the World Cup. Football’s governing body made the decision following the death of a woman who had self-immolated after being arrested for trying to enter a football stadium dressed as a boy.
While the ban on women in stadiums is not written into law, it has been strictly enforced following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. "This is a very positive step forward, and one that FIFA, and especially Iranian girls and women, have been eagerly waiting for," said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “FIFA now looks more than ever towards a future when all girls and women wishing to attend football matches in Iran will be free to do so, and in a safe environment. There can be no stopping or turning back now."
Once the ban was lifted, women began snapping up tickets for Iran’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cambodia. Football journalist Raha Poorbakhsh was one of the lucky women to have secured a seat. “I still can’t believe this is going to happen because after all these years of working in this field, watching everything on television, now I can experience everything in person,” she told AFP.
However, while the match marked a step in the right direction for female football fans in Iran, women were segregated from men and closely monitored by police officers. Also, the number of women able to watch the game was restricted to 4,000. Speaking to CNN, a FIFA spokesperson said: “We reaffirm our position that the number of women in the stadium needs to be determined by the demand for such tickets, without any arbitrary limitation being imposed.”
Despite the ticket cap, a leading activist — whose Open Stadiums group has campaigned for women’s access for 15 years — said in response to the reversal: “Just women going to the stadium will break a taboo for the hardliners in Iran . . . Their eyes are going to be used to seeing women inside the stadium.”
October 12, 2019