FIFA president Gianni Infantino has today (Thursday) urged Iranian authorities to allow women into football stadia and has called for “positive developments” ahead of the national team’s next home match.
Iranian women have been banned from entering football stadia for men’s matches for the past 40 years, with foreign women only having been granted limited access.
Earlier this year, FIFA wrote to the Iranian Football Federation informing it that there would be consequences if it did not provide a timeline for when women would be able to attend the national team’s qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Jamshid Taghizadeh, the Iranian sports ministry’s deputy for legal and provincial affairs, said last month that women would be permitted to attend Azadi Stadium (pictured) for Iran’s World Cup qualifier against Cambodia on October 10 and Infantino is hoping this will be the case.
Infantino said: “I am hopeful that the Iranian Federation and the Iranian authorities were receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation.
“I contacted them several times in the recent past and so has the FIFA administration. We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them.
“Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran. We understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October.”
Infantino’s statement comes after female football fan and activist Sahar Khodayari died earlier this month after setting herself on fire in protest after being arrested for attending a match disguised as a man. Her death has prompted widespread condemnation of the stadium ban, with some calling for FIFA to suspend or ban the Iranian Football Federation.
Iran is Asia’s top-ranked national team and qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.