Iranian Women Banned From World Cup Stadium Game While Female Syrian Fans Allowed Entry
Iranian women intent on watching a World Cup qualifier match between Iran and Syria on September 5, 2017, at Azadi Stadium in Tehran were turned away while Syrian women were allowed entry.
Some of the Iranian female fans had pre-ordered tickets online.
“Syrian women are sitting inside while Iranian women are behind the stadium gate in their own country… Why is there no room for Iranian women?” tweeted sports journalist Elham Yazdiha.
“They didn’t allow us into the stadium,” wrote Iranian journalist Banafsheh Jamali on Twitter. “The police took a lot of pictures and filmed us and threatened to arrest us. They took away all our tickets.”
Although women are not legally banned from entering stadiums to watch male athletic events in Iran, the discriminatory practice—strongly supported by hardline religious conservatives—has been an unofficial policy of the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
“The police quietly told us we could go inside if we carried a Syrian flag,” tweeted Negin Bagheri.
Iranian women have been arrested and jailed for defying the ban, including Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British-Iranian dual national who served five months in Evin Prison in 2014.
In response to the most recent enforcement of the ban on September 5, Iranians expressed anger on social media at the publication of photos showing Syrian women in the stands.
“We will never forget that this was supposed to be a day to celebrate our presence [as fans], but instead it turned into a day of humiliation in our own country,” tweeted Yazdiha.
Some 200 Iranian women had purchased tickets on the Iranian Football Federation’s website ahead of the match, but the federation later announced that females were able to purchase tickets because of a “technical mistake.”
“There are no plans to allow women into the match between Iran and Syria,” said Mohammad Hosseini Hamisi, the federation’s security director, on September 4. “We strongly deny the rumors to the contrary.”