‘Women in stadium is vulgarity’: Iran blocked women from attending football match

Human Rights Watch claimed today that Iranian officials prevented scores of Iranian women from accessing the Imam Reza football stadium in Mashhad on March 29, 2022, potentially using excessive force.

FIFA should utilise its clout with the Iranian government to demand that the country’s discriminatory stadium ban be lifted immediately and that abusers be held accountable.

Women were barred from entering the sports stadium in Mashhad, Khorasan province, to attend a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification match between Iran and Lebanon. This included those who had apparently already purchased tickets.

Women gathered in front of the stadium, according to videos shared on social media, and authorities used pepper spray to disperse them. 

According to the semi-official ISNA news agency, 12,500 tickets were sold online, with 2,000 earmarked for women.

In the match, Iran defeated Lebanon 2-0.

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A win over Iraq in January guaranteed the team a place in the World Cup in Qatar.

In response to the decision to bar female soccer supporters from attending the match in Mashhad, a video circulating on social media shows hundreds of female soccer fans yelling, “We have an objection.” 

It was not immediately clear who made the decision to block the women from attending the match.

Khabaronline, an Iranian news website, said that “despite tickets being sold, women are still not allowed to attend the stadium.”

FIFA has long asked that Iran provide guarantees that women will be permitted to compete in World Cup qualifiers in 2022.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, women have been largely barred from attending men’s games and other sporting activities in Iran.

Friday prayer leader in Mashhad Ahmad Alamolhoda, who was selected by the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated he is always opposed women seeing males compete in sports.

He referred to their presence as “vulgarity.” 

(With inputs from agencies)

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