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FIFA delegation in Iran amid women stadium ban row

By AFP
media Supporters hold a banner calling for Iranian women to be allowed to enter football stadiums, during a match between Sweden and Iran in Solna near Stockholm in March 2015 AFP/File

A FIFA delegation visited Tehran on Friday to discuss allowing female spectators into football matches, the official news agency IRNA reported, days after a public row over a female fan who killed herself.

"The FIFA delegation first visited the sports ministry and talked to officials and the football federation on the presence of women in (Tehran's) Azadi stadium," IRNA said.

It said federation officials told the visiting team that preparations have been made for women to attend football matches and they would "officially" be allowed to enter for the October 10 Iran-Cambodia game.

"The delegation then visited the stadium... and inspected entry gates and stands set up for women," the agency added.

The Islamic republic has barred female spectators from football and other stadiums since 1981, with clerics arguing they must be protected from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.

Sahar Khodayari, dubbed "blue girl" because of the colours of the team she supported, Esteghlal FC, was reportedly detained last year when trying to enter a stadium dressed as a man to watch them.

She died of her injuries in a Tehran hospital after setting herself on fire outside a court in early September.

The death of Khodayari sparked an outcry online, with many calling on world football's governing body FIFA to ban Iran from international competitions and for fans to boycott matches.

Iran has come under pressure from FIFA to allow women to attend qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, and it was reportedly given a deadline of August 31 to comply.

Iran's sports ministry said last month that women fans would be allowed into the stadium when Team Melli -- as the national team are known -- play their next home qualifier.

 
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