In a matter of hours women in Tehran bought 3.500 tickets to watch the upcoming soccer match between their national team and Cambodia, after pressures by FIFA, the world governing body of football.
For four decades Iran’s clerical rulers have not allowed women to enter stadiums and watch men’s sports competitions, especially football. But in the last few weeks, FIFA threatened Iran with suspension from international games if it did not allow women to freely enter stadiums.
The death of a young women who committed suicide after being threatened with a jail term turned into an international story, which prompted FIFA to increase its pressure on Iran.
Sahar Khodayari, a female football fan tried to enter Tehran’s Azadi stadium to watch a match when she was arrested. She was released later but in early September she was told of an impending jail term. She set herself on fire and died a few days later in the hospital, creating international outrage.
On Thursday, women went online to buy tickets for the October 10 game between Iran’s national team and Cambodia. Around 3,500 seats in four separate sections were blocked for women to buy and tickets were quickly sold out.
The official IRNA news agency says it is not clear if more tickets will be offered to women, since only 4,000 men have so far purchased tickets.
Female football fans began celebrating on social media by the hashtag “Come with me to the stadium” in Persian.
FIFA will be sending a delegation to observe if women will be allowed to enter the Azadi stadium.
There are no official laws banning women from attending men’s games, but the country’s security forces and courts controlled by conservative clerics and their supporters have in practice prohibited women to enter stadiums.
A newspaper in Iran tweeted this image of the stadium layout showing sections reserved for female fans.