Only a few weeks after the death of Sahar Khodayari, FIFA now finally had success in gaining access for females to the game set against Cambodia in October. The Iranian women died after setting herself alight when she heard that she would be going to prison after being caught at a soccer match where only men are allowed.
The announcement was made this Sunday in Milan by Gianni Infantino, president to FIFA, at a FIFA conference concerned with women’s football. Infantino “assured” the audience that women will be allowed to enter and attend football games within the country starting from the next upcoming international match set to take place on the 10th of October against Cambodia. This is a breakthrough for gender equality in the country. Women haven’t been allowed in male-dominated soccer stadiums for more than 40 years. Only a few exceptions were allowed during this time. During these few occasions, men and women weren’t allowed to be seated next to each other, and a particular part of the stadium was designated for the female supporters while the remainder of the stadium was for the men attending.
Why the Ban Existed
During 1979 the country was the setting where the Islamic Revolution took place. Shortly after the revolution, women were banned from attending soccer matches because they weren’t allowed to enter the stadiums were men’s games were played.
Since June already, FIFA was involved in negotiations with Iranian officials in order to get their approval of allowing women to watch these games, especially with the international games set to take place within the country. The pressure on the Iranian government was increased after the death of Khodayari, when social media took the story of Blue Girl, as she was nicknamed after a blue wig which she wore as her disguise, went viral. She had to appear in the Tehra court after being caught out by officials within the Tehran Stadium when an altercation occurred. Upon being informed that she is facing some time in prison, the news wat too much to bear for her and she set herself alight upon the steps of the local courthouse. Through her death, she managed to focus the attention of the world on this matter. During 2018 at the Russia World Cup Group B football games, she was requesting and urging the Iranian officials to allow their female supporters into the stadiums.
The 49-year-old Infantino expressed, during the conference, the international need for sport and especially women’s sports to expand and move forward with the times. He stressed that it is vital to allow women to attend these games and that the world needs to push for this in a big, yet respectful way.