Bending to football world governing body FIFA, Iran has allowed women to attend a World Cup qualifying match in Tehran. It is the first time women have been allowed into a match in the country since 1981.
Some 4,000 women were in attendance as Iran faced off against Cambodia for a 2022 World Cup qualification match in Tehran's Azadi Stadium Thursday. Women have been barred from attending football matches since 1981, shortly after the Iranian revolution brought conservative Islamic clerics to power in the country.
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Iran is the last country in the world to have forbidden women from attending football matches — Saudi Arabia recently lifted a similar ban. However, the country bowed to pressure from football's world governing body, FIFA, which had threatened to shut the the Iranian national team out of competitions if women were not allowed to attend international matches.
Female fans quickly bought up the 4,000 tickets allotted to women by the Iranian government, with many flashing victory signs and waving Iranian flags as they entered the stadium.
Female fans were afforded a special viewing section attended to by female police officers and doctors. None, however, were given press accreditation, something that had been previously promised by the Ministry of Sport.
Though women will be allowed to attend international matches, they will not be able to attend any other games, such as those in the Iranian domestic league or Asian Champions League.
The decision also followed the death of a young Iranian woman who set herself on fire after she was sentenced to prison for attempting to enter a stadium wearing a fake beard.
js/dr (AP, dpa)