'No obstacles' to women attending soccer matches in Iran, FIFA says

Eric He
Yahoo Sports Contributor
FIFA will work with Iran to end its ban on allowing women to attend soccer matches (Photo: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

In the wake of an Iranian woman setting herself on fire earlier this month after she was arrested for attending a soccer match, FIFA has been ramping up the pressure on Iran to lift its ban on women attending soccer stadiums.

On Sunday, FIFA released a statement detailing its visit to Tehran on Thursday in which it found that there were “no noteworthy operational obstacles” to women attending matches, starting with a World Cup qualifying match next month between Iran and Cambodia.

FIFA also stated that it talked about “the need to open stadiums for women to attend national matches.”

The statement read, in part:

“In these productive discussions, FIFA reiterated its firm and clear position that women need to be allowed to enter football matches freely and that the number of women who attend the stadiums be determined by the demand, resulting in ticket sales.”

Prior to the inspection, FIFA president Gianni Infantino released a statement urging Iran to lift the ban in which he called it “unacceptable” and said that action had to be taken.

Women have been banned from attending sports stadiums since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. FIFA has been criticized regarding human rights violations in the past, including the current lead-up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

But the tragic death of 29-year-old Sahar Khodayari spurred action from soccer’s governing body. It might take some time and effort to change a 40-year policy, but FIFA owes it to soccer fans and — to be frank — basic human rights to eliminate this outdated ban.

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