TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — In a rare move, Iranian authorities allowed women to attend a soccer match at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium in the Iranian capital Thursday night, local media reported.
Videos posted on social media show women inside the stadium as the national league match between Esteghlal FC, Iran’s second most popular team, and Mes-e Kerman kicks off.
Footage shows women waving Esteghlal team blue flags and cheering from their seats in a special women’s area in the 100,000-seat stadium.
According to the semi-official ISNA news agency, 500 tickets were reserved exclusively for women, although the number of participants was not immediately clear.
A news site, Asriran, said that four hours before the match, tickets for women were selling for around $70 on the black market, compared to an official price of less than $2.
Women have mostly been banned from attending men’s games and other sporting events in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
FIFA has long called on Iran to guarantee that women will be allowed to attend the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
In 2019 and for the first time in decades, for the Asian Champions League final, hundreds of Iranian women were allowed to watch Persepolis take on Japan’s Kashima Antlers in Tehran.
In January, more than 2,000 female spectators at Azadi Stadium watched the Iranian national football team defeat Iraq in Group A of Asian teams, qualifying for Iran’s third consecutive World Cup. It was the second major football event Iranian women watched at the stadium.
However, in March, Iranian authorities barred women from attending the country’s final 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier between Iran and Lebanon in the holy city of Mashhad. At the time, Iranian media claimed that 12,500 tickets had been sold online, including 2,000 reserved for women.
But Ahmad Alamolhoda, an influential Friday prayer leader in Mashhad who was appointed by the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said he was against the presence of women as spectators in sports competitions. masculine, calling it “vulgarity”.