Thursday was the first occasion in three years that Iranian women were permitted to attend a match of their national football team at a Tehran stadium.
“I am very happy. “This is the first match I have attended at the Azadi stadium,” stated a 26-year old civil engineer, who only gave her name as Mahya. She wore the national flag and covered her head in a grey scarf.
ISNA news agency reported that ten thousand tickets were available, two thousand of them for women, to be used in the 2022 World Cup qualifying match between Iran, and Iraq.
After decades of being banned from stadiums in Iran, October 2019 was the last time Iranian women were permitted to attend a national football match. Covid-19 restrictions have prevented spectators from attending matches of national teams.
Mahya stated that she bought the tickets online and received an SMS confirmation. She added that “if we win we will celebrate the victory on the streets.”
She said that there is nothing unusual or complicated about a woman visiting the stadium.
She said, “It should’ve happened sooner but I am very happy. I hope this will continue.”
The police officers monitored the women and separated them from their male counterparts.
“I wanted to have my husband beside, but they said men are segregated,” stated Golnaz Bahari (24), another female fan.
Bahari was carrying her child and a vuvuzela, and said that it would be better for everyone if they could all come together.
Since around 40 years, female spectators have been banned from watching football or other stadiums in the Islamic republic. Clerics play an important role in decision-making and argue that women should be protected from the masculine atmosphere, as well as seeing semi-clad men.
FIFA, the world’s governing body of football, ordered Iran to allow women to enter stadiums in September 2019. This was in accordance with demand and without restrictions.
They were then able to attend the qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup between Iran and Cambodia at the Azadi stadium a month later.