Iran lifts 40-year ban on women entering football stadiums

Iranian women allowed to watch live football match

Iranian women to see football freely for first time in decades

The Islamic republic has barred female spectators from soccer and other stadiums for around 40 years, with clerics arguing they must be shielded from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.

Iranian women have previously only been allowed to attend select matches, and under very strict rules.

Marc Wilmots' IR Iran will host Keisuke Honda's Cambodia on the third matchday of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran on Thursday.

The change comes after an Iranian woman set herself on fire and died last month, as she faced charges arising from her trying to enter the stadium to watch a match.

"I still can't believe it's happening because after all these years watching every match on TV, I'm going to be able to experience everything in person", she said.

The ban on women in stadiums is not written into law or regulations, but it has been strictly enforced.

Iranian sports journalist Raha Purbakhsh is among those who got a ticket to Thursday's match. Amnesty International criticized Iran's authorities for allotting so few tickets to women in a stadium that can seat 78,000.

After an inspection visit, Iranian officials were told of FIFA's "firm and clear position that women need to be allowed to enter football matches freely" with tickets sold to as many as wanted to attend. Although reports suggest that more tickets may be sold, Reuters reported that none have been made available as of Wednesday.

Speaking to the French news agency, several Iranians told the outlet that they supported the government's decision, with some remarking that they hope the clearance will lead to further freedoms for Iranian women.

Team Melli and Angkor Warriors are in Group C of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Joint-Qualifiers second round where they are joined by Iraq, Bahrain and Hong Kong.

Federation Internationale de Football Association statutes prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender. The governing body says the arrangement for Thursday's match is a pragmatic solution as it works toward lasting change in Iran. We're totally focused on making sure women can attend this match on 10 October and working just as pragmatically to ensure women also can attend local matches in league football - but it's about what follows as well.

Federation Internationale de Football Association ordered Iran to end its ban on letting women enter stadiums during an inspection visit last month.

An activist inside Iran told "60 Minutes" that women attending tomorrow's game is a "test step" in the "right direction".

Using the hashtag #WakeUpFifa, women have taken to social media to demand more tickets.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, women have only had rare access to stadiums in Iran. "It's not just about football".

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