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Top Iran Football Team Shows Defiant Sympathy For Dead Female Fan

Tehran's Esteqlal football team wearing jerseys saying "The Blue Girl" before their match on September 15, 2019.

In another public gesture of sympathy for a 29-year old woman who killed herself for being prosecuted over her right to attend a men’s football game, players wore jerseys at a match inscribed with her name.

Sahar Khodayari was arrested in March for attempting to enter a stadium to watch her favorite team play and was told by court officials she will go to prison. In despair she poured gasoline over her body and set it on fire, dying a few days later in hospital.

Her death reignited controversy over the ban barring women from attending men’s sports matches. Ordinary people, celebrities and some politicians flooded social media with condemnations. She was dubbed “The Blue Girl” for the color of her team.

Members of the Esteqlal (Independence) football (soccer) club all wore jerseys on Sunday before the start of a game bearing “The Blue Girl” inscription, in a show of defiance against the strict Islamic rule banning women from men’s matches and the clerical rulers of Iran.

Also, fans of another team sang a tribute to her before the start of a different game, saying, “The world should know, we are all the same. Men and Women are not different…we all love football; Iran’s “Blue Girl”, your name is now eternal”.

The world governing body FIFA has set a deadline for Iran to scrap the unwritten regulation banning women from watching men's games.

The outpouring of sympathy for Khodayari has angered Iran’s clerical rulers and hardliners who have snapped back at politicians criticizing the ban.