FIFA President Gianni Infantino has on September 19 released a statement regarding the stadium ban on female football fans in Iran, expressing hope that the situation would be different by the time Iran play their next home match in October.
Two weeks ago, a woman set herself on fire in Tehran after being arrested for entering a football stadium disguised as a man. A week later, on September 10, the 30-year-old Sahar Khodayari, also known as “Blue Girl” – a reference to her favourite team Esteqlal’s colours – died in hospital after self-immolation outside a court following indications of a six-month jail sentence.
The latest statement from Infantino reads: “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.”
The stadium ban in Iran dates back to 1979, shortly after the Islamic revolution. FIFA had set a July 15 deadline for the Iranian authorities to lift it, but the world football federation’s order was clearly ignored.