October 18 – Any hopes that Iran might permanently relax its ban on women attending football matches have been well and truly dashed, with the country’s prosecutor general saying such a move would “lead to sin”.
Earlier this week in what now appears to be a one-off move, the Iranian authorities allowed a select group of women, barred from watching football in the country since the 1979 Islamic revolution, to attend a friendly with Bolivia in Tehran.
About 100 watched the friendly encounter from a women’s-only section in the upper stands of the cavernous Azadi Stadium, most of them hand-picked and including employees of Iran’s football federation and members of the Iranian women’s national women’s team, along with female journalists.
But there will be no repeat according to prosecutor general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri.
“I object to the presence of women in Azadi Stadium yesterday. We are a Muslim state, we are Muslims,” Montazeri said, according to the Mehr news agency.
“We will deal with any official who wants to allow women inside stadiums under any pretext,” he added ominously. “When a woman goes to a stadium and is faced with half-naked men in sports clothes and sees them it will lead to sin.”
There had been reports that women would also be allowed to attend the return match of the 2018 AFC Champions League semi-finals on November 23, but Montazeri warned he would not allow it.
“If this is repeated I will order the Tehran prosecutor to act,” he said.
Earlier this year Iran detained multiple women who tried to get into the Tehran derby between Esteghlal and Persepolis and not even FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been able to persuade the Iranian authorities to soften their stance.
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