Iran to let women attend football World Cup qualifier: ministry




An Iranian couple pose for a "selfie" while cheering for their national fooball team during a screening of a Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Iran and Spain at Azadi stadium in Tehran on June 20, 2018
An Iranian couple pose for a "selfie" while cheering for their national fooball team during a screening of a Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Iran and Spain at Azadi stadium in Tehran on June 20, 2018  

Tehran (AFP) - Women fans will be allowed into the stadium for Iran's next football World Cup qualifier in October, a sports ministry official said Sunday, ahead of a deadline to allow their attendance.

FIFA has been stepping up pressure on Iran to ensure women are allowed to attend qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, reportedly giving it until Saturday to comply or else face consequences.

An official at the sports ministry said on Sunday that women would be able to watch Team Melli -- as the national team are known -- at their next home game in Tehran's Azadi stadium.

"Women can go to the Azadi stadium on October 10, 2019 to watch the match between the Iranian national team and Cambodia for the Qatar World Cup qualifier," said Jamshid Taghizadeh, the sports ministry's deputy for legal and provincial affairs.

"There is no legal ban (on the presence of women in stadiums] and we must activate the infrastructure, which is underway," he said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

"Our view on women, at all levels, is to prepare the necessary conditions for women's success."

Iran has barred Iranian women spectators at matches since the 1979 Islamic revolution, with clerics arguing they must be protected from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.

The authorities have allowed foreign women to go to matches in the country in the past.

And while a small number of Iranian women have attended select international matches on previous occasions, others have faced prosecution for entering stadiums at other times.

Four women were recently detained at Azadi stadium before being released, according to a report by the semi-official ISNA news agency on August 18.

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