November 9 – Campaigners in Iran are pushing for female fans to be allowed to attend the Asian Champions League final in Tehran on Saturday.
Last month 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 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 it appeared to be a one-off move with prosecutor general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri ruling out any repeat because, he said, “we are a Muslim state.”
A crowd of more than 80,000 is expected at the weekend at the Azadi as Persepolis, Iran’s best-supported club, seek to overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit against Japan’s Kashima Antlers and claim their first continental crown.
Video posted on social media last week showed officials discussing possible locations for a “family stand”, according to Reuters, an initiative that would include women. But there has apparently been no follow-up.
“It has been silent for days, the only thing we saw publicly was a short video from the sports ministry inside the Azadi Stadium and they were talking about a female section,” a spokesperson for the Open Stadiums campaign group told Reuters by e-mail on condition of anonymity.
“It has been our dream for decades. We are always excluded from public happiness and excitement. We have protested and fought for it. Basically, it’s women’s first demand.”
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