Women’s Demand for Tickets for Soccer Match Between Iran and Cambodia Surges as Ban is Lifted
Authorities Quadruple Tickets Available to Women After Allotment Sells Out in One Hour
Responding to extraordinarily high demand for tickets from women soccer fans, Iranian authorities have increased the allocation of seats for women at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium for the coming match between Iran and Cambodia scheduled for October 10, 2019.
The face-off in the qualifying round for the 2022 Qatar World Cup has attracted international attention as the world football body FIFA’s order to lift the 40-year ban on Iranian women watching men’s competitions will be put to the test.
Despite opposition from some senior officials and religious conservatives, Iranian athletic authorities have pledged to honor FIFA’s demand, after intense domestic and international pressure to lift the ban increased following the death of Sahar Khodayari on September 10, 2019. A few days earlier she had set herself on fire outside a courthouse in Tehran where she was facing prosecution for trying to enter Azadi Stadium disguised as a man to avoid the ban on women.
According to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA, ticket sales to women have been almost as high as to men.
The website where fans can purchase tickets for the match (only accessible inside Iran), began offering seats on October 3. Initially only one section of the stadium was designated for women but after all those tickets were sold out in the first hour, it was increased to four sections, totaling 3,500 seats, IRNA reported.
Using the Persian hashtag (#با_من_به_ورزشگاه_بیا) , many Iranian women have proudly shared photos of their tickets for the October 10 match on social media.
“FIFA’s position is firm and clear: women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran. For all football matches,” the world football body said in a statement on September 21, 2019.
In discussions with Iranian authorities, “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,” the statement added.
“The inspections on site showed that there are no noteworthy operational obstacles to these measures being implemented at the Azadi stadium, starting with the game on 10 October 2019. In that respect, the delegation also discussed the detailed ticketing procedures as well as operational procedures required and in line with relevant FIFA regulations.”
There are no laws on regulations prohibiting Iranian women fans from going to the stadium to watch men’s matches. Yet for decades, authorities have bowed to religious conservatives who believe women’s presence at these matches with men would violate Islamic principles.
Read this article in Persian.