FIFA president Gianni Infantino has told Iran it is time to allow women into football stadiums and the global soccer body expects “positive developments” starting with their next home match in October.
While foreign women have been allowed limited access to matches, Iranian women have been banned from stadiums when men’s teams have been playing, since just after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Infantino said in a FIFA statement he was hopeful that the Iranian football federation and government authorities had been receptive to “our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation.”
He added, “Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran. Now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October.”
Infantino’s comments come after the death of Sahar Khodayari, an Iranian woman who set herself on fire after being given a prison sentence for attending a football game. Known as ‘Blue Girl’ for her support of FC Esteghlal, who wear blue jerseys, her death prompted Iranians to call for FIFA to act on social media.
A FIFA spokesman said last week that FIFA officials will visit Iran. Meetings with Iranian soccer officials, expected inside the next two weeks, were part of preparations for Iran’s World Cup qualifying games - they face Cambodia at home on October 10 - and were not a specific response to Khodayari’s death, said FIFA.
The FIFA officials, however, will check the preparations made by the Iranian FA to provide access to that October 10 match for women.
On Friday, Iranian media reported that a judge is issuing an arrest warrant for an Iranian actress for showing support for Khodayari on social media.
Iran is also under pressure in other sports. On Wednesday, the country was suspended from international judo competitions because it boycotts bouts with Israeli athletes.
- With Agencies.