Thursday 17 October, 2019

FIFA president Infantino urges Iran to lift stadium ban on women

FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called on Iranian authorities to repeal a long-standing ban on women entering football grounds.

Iranian woman Sahar Khodayari died this month after setting herself on fire while awaiting a court case, following her March arrest for attempting to sneak in disguise into the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

She was known as Iran's 'blue girl', reportedly because of the colours of her favourite club, Esteghlal Tehran.

Amnesty International official Philip Luther described the ban as showing "appalling contempt for women's rights" and encouraged world governing body FIFA to take "urgent action".

The ban has been in place since 1979 but was lifted for the second leg of the AFC Champions League final between Persepolis and Japanese side Kashima Antlers in November 2018.

Infantino said: "I am hopeful that the Iranian Federation and the Iranian authorities were receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation.

"I contacted them several times in the recent past and so has the FIFA administration. We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them.

"Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran.

"We understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October."

Iran, ranked joint 23rd in the world, host Cambodia in World Cup qualifying on October 10.

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