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FIFA Delegation May Be Sent to Iran to Ensure Women Are Allowed Into Football Stadiums

Iranian women have banned from entering stadiums to watch sports since 1981. According to Humans Right Watch, some Iranian women dress up as men in an attempt to bypass the law and enter stadiums.

FIFA, however, is considering sending a delegation to the October 10 match after a 29-year-old Iranian woman named Sahar Khodayari set herself on fire in protest after she was arrested for attempting to attend a men’s football match in disguise. 

In an Iranian court on September 1, Khodayari set herself on fire in protest of a six-month prison sentence she was handed after attempting to enter a stadium while disguised as a man to watch a football game in March. Khodayari, also known as “blue girl,” after the color of her favorite football team Esteqlal of Tehran, was charged for “improperly wearing hijab.” She died on September 9 from her injuries.

Youri Raffi Djorkaeff, FIFA’s CEO and a former French national football team player, told outlets Thursday that he plans to be part of the delegation heading to Iran in October to ensure Iranian women are allowed into the stadium.

"Iran is a hot topic and I am organizing myself to be there on October 10," Djorkaeff is quoted as saying, also noting that the purpose of the delegation is "to show that FIFA intervened [against the situation in Iran] with conviction,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

Days after Khodayari’s death, FIFA President Gianni Infantino issued a statement calling on Iran to allow women to attend football matches.

“We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment, and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them,” reads the release. “Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran,” the statement read, Sputnik reported.

In 2006, then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad removed the ban on female spectators, saying in a state TV broadcast that the “best stands should be allocated to women and families in the stadiums,” and that the “presence of women and families in public places promotes chastity,” Sputnik reported. However, weeks later, Ahmadinejad’s progressive stance was overruled when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reinstated the ban, Sputnik reported.

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