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Rouhani Vows Women To Be Allowed In Iranian Stadiums, FIFA Chief Says

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (file photo)
FIFA President Gianni Infantino (file photo)

FIFA chief Gianni Infantino says Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has assured him that women will soon be allowed to attend soccer matches in the country, although it could "take a bit of time."

"I was promised that women in Iran will have access to [soccer] stadiums soon," Infantino said on March 2 at the Zurich headquarters of FIFA, the sport's world governing body.

"He told me that in countries such as [Iran], these things take a bit of time."

The remarks come after the Iranian Interior Ministry said about 35 women were prevented from entering Tehran's Azadi Stadium on March 1 for a match and "were instructed to a proper place by police."

OpenStadiums, an Iranian group campaigning for the right of women to attend sporting events, said some female fans had been arrested near the stadium.

Interior Ministry spokesman Salman Samani was quoted by the semiofficial students news agency ISNA as saying the women were not arrested but only transferred to a "proper place" by police.

Infantino said he met with Rouhani during a March 1 visit to Tehran, a trip for which he received some criticism from women's rights backers.

Infantino, speaking at a FIFA equality conference, said the trip to Iran could help "many women around the world."

Iran in the past has ignored requests by FIFA to open stadiums to women.

The previous FIFA chief, Sepp Blatter, in 2015 said that the situation "cannot continue. Hence, my appeal to the Iranian authorities; open the nation's football stadiums to women."

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters