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Iran's Top Prosecutor Defies FIFA On Allowing Women Into Stadiums

Mohammad Javad Montazeri, The Attorney-General of Iran. File

Iran’s conservative prosecutor-general once again has voiced his opposition to women attending live football matches, dismissing a deadline by FIFA to force Iran to scrap the ban,

The mid-ranking cleric, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, who is renowned for not mincing his words, said late Wednesday, August 7, "FIFA's has no sympathy for Iranian women, and it's insistence on allowing them to enter arenas and watch male footballers competing against each other, is a reflection of enemy's infiltration in Iran."

Many Iranian women have long voiced opposition to the unwritten law that bans them from attending football matches. Often they have protested outside stadiums demanding an equal right with men to watch the games.

Using the rhetoric of Iranian hardliners, the high-ranking judicial official said FIFA's real aim behind forcing the Islamic Republic to allow Iranian women freely enter soccer stadiums is eliminating the sense of "resistance" among the people of Iran.

"Resistance" is a term used by the Islamic Republic's authorities to describe opposition to the West and its values.

FIFA has set a deadline for Iran to allow women to enter sports arenas and watch men's soccer games without hindrance.

Iran should resolve the issue before October 10 when as the top-ranked soccer team in Asia it will host its first home World Cup qualifier against Cambodia.

Banning women from attending soccer games is explicitly against FIFA's charter that rejects such discrimination.

Furthermore, FIFA has warned that should Iran not let women freely enter the sports arenas to watch football games, it would step by step punish the country, and ultimately ban it from participation in all international soccer events.

Under FIFA's pressure, the Islamic Republic's Deputy President for legal affairs said on Monday, August 5, that President Hassan Rouhani's government supports the presence of Iranian women in football stadiums.

Without elaborating on the term "legal order," Joneidi admitted, "There must be some 'coordination between Iran's branches' of government for the presence of

Several powerful ayatollahs have already expressed their opposition to allowing women to watch live men's soccer matches.

Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, 92, is one of the staunchest supporters of banning women from sporting venues. During a seminary lecture in December 2017, he told his students that the presence of women in stadiums "inevitably" leads to morally corrupt acts.

Echoing Makarem Shirazi's remarks, Montazeri said women watching palyers leads to sin'.

"I object to the presence of women in Azadi Stadium (Tehran's main sports arena, built long before the Islamic revolution). We are a Muslim state, and we are Muslims. We will deal with any official who wants to allow women inside sports venues under any pretext."

State-run Mehr News Agency (MNA) quoted Montazeri as also stressing, "When a woman enters a stadium and sees half-naked men in sports jerseys, it will lead to sinful acts."