A shock wave shook the international world of soccer recently with the death of Sahar Khodayari. The 29-year-old Khodayari, a woman of Iranian descent, dressed up as a man to sneak into a stadium to watch a soccer match. She was caught, and on receiving the news that she will have to serve six months behind bars for her offence, she set herself alight and sadly succumbed from her injuries.
During March, Khodayari dressed up as a man to be able to enter Tehran’s Azadi Stadium. She desperately wanted to see Esteghal compete against Ai Ain. She was a great fan of Esteghal and wanted to see them compete against the team of the UAE. This wasn’t the first time that she sneaked into stadiums. As per usual, she dressed up in a long overcoat and a blue wig to get through security. Over time she even earned the nickname of “Blue Girl” based on her hair. During this match though, there was an altercation which then led to her arrest. Khodayari was detained for three nights before she was released. Upon return to the court to request the back of her cell phone which police seized during her arrest, she was told that she is facing jail time for her offence. According to her family, she suffered from bipolar disorder and stopped taking her medicine a while ago. Hence the news of spending time in prison was too much, and she set herself alight with gasoline at the courthouse in Tehran Ershad. The soccer fan got severely injured, and 90% of her body had been burned. She was relying on a respirator but succumbed of her wounds earlier in the week.
Ban on Women in Stadiums
In 1979 Iran had the Islamic Revolution, and since then there has been a ban placed in the country, prohibiting women from entering stadiums where men play games. For a while already, FIFA has been in negotiations with the leaders of the country to lift the ban. FIFA, who expressed their shock and regretted about the tragedy, is hoping to achieve the lift of the ban before the 10th of October. This is the date when Iran, who is currently at the top of the ranks of Asian teams, would be hosting a World Cup qualifier on local Iranian soil. The game is set to take place against
Since the death of Blue Girl, Ali Karimi, a former midfielder for Bayern Munich, who also played 127 games for Iran, added his voice to the campaign urging the lift of the ban. He requested the boycott of soccer stadiums by Iranians on social media after the death of Khodayari. Further support for the case was also gained from Andranik Teymourian, who stated on his social media that the stadium’s name should be changed in future to be named after Khodayari.