The Iranian government on Thursday authorized women from their country to attend a national championship soccer match in Tehran for the first time since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, reported the Esteghlal club, concerned by this decision.
For more than 40 years, the Islamic Republic has prohibited Iranian women from attending soccer matches as spectators. However, the women were able to access a matchup for their national team in January for the first time in almost three years during the 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Iraq.
As an “exceptional event”, Esteghlal, a club from the capital, announced that it had offered “balloons, blue flags and flowers” to supporters, according to a statement published by the official Irna agency.
“This is a historic event. For the first time, Esteghlal’s female fans will go to (Tehran’s) Azadi Stadium to support their team against Mes Kerman,” announced Hamshahri, the Iranian capital’s city hall newspaper.
In September 2019, Sahar Khodayari, a 30-year-old Esteghlal club supporter, died after burning herself to death in court for fear of being jailed for wanting to attend a match.
Nicknamed “the blue girl” in reference to the colors of her favorite team, she attempted to enter a stadium disguised as a boy.
Her death sparked protests, with many calling for Iran to be banned from participating in international meetings and to boycott its clashes.
Following Khodayari’s death, world soccer’s governing body, FIFA, ordered Iran to allow women access to soccer fields.
In honor of Khodayari, Esteghlal fans chanted her nickname “the blue girl” on Thursday.