Prior to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iranian women could attend men’s and women’s national and club games in stadiums without restriction. In the years following the Revolution, however, Shi’a imitators were restricted in this regard due to the Islamic Republic’s policies on gender segregation, and women were not permitted to watch men’s matches in Iranian stadiums.
Iranian women living abroad desire legal access for women to the stadium.
In 2009, a woman with a placard attempts to enter the stadium in Tehran.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the situation was exacerbated by women’s requests to watch men’s sports, specifically football (Soccer), Iran’s most popular sport, as well as pressure from Asian and international sports federations to lift the ban. The ban on women attending men’s sporting events in stadiums constitutes discrimination against women.
Self-immolation and suicide were forms of protest against the ban on women and girls. The Islamic republic continues to make it difficult for women to enter stadiums despite years of opposition. Foreign men and women demonstrate in stadiums against the ban on women entering stadiums.
Women’s rights activists have demanded in recent years that women be permitted to watch men’s sports. Attempts to enter the 2004 Iran-Germany soccer match and the campaign “Defending the right of women to enter stadiums” with the slogan “Women’s right, half of freedom” are two examples.
The first women to enter the stadium following the revolution.
Entry discrimination against women in stadiums is continue…
However, this was not the end of the story, as the women continued to face numerous obstacles to enter the stadium for subsequent matches. After women first entered the stadium, Islamic clerics vehemently opposed the issue. They viewed hijab and chastity as the most important factor in opposing the presence of women in stadiums and stated that the presence of women at sporting events could not be guaranteed.
Violence against women outside the stadium
In September 2008, it was reported that women could attend AFC-sponsored games, but seven girls who attempted to enter Azadi Stadium to watch Saipa and Bunyodkar play were denied entry. Several times during club games, particularly in the Iranian Football Premier League and the Asian Champions League, Iranian women attempted to conceal their faces with makeup and stadium appearances, including in April 2013, when a girl disguised herself entered Azadi Stadium to watch the match between Esteghlal and Al-Hilal.
During the 17th week of the 2017-2018 Iranian Football Premier League match between Foolad and Persepolis, an Ahwazi girl named “Shabnam” posed as a boy to circumvent the ban on women attending stadiums and closely observed the game. She reported that the male spectators surrounding her were respectful and attentive to all issues. These efforts have not always been successful; for instance, during a June 2017 game between Esteghlal and Al-Ain, police arrested a girl who entered the stadium dressed as a boy.
The Islamic Republic’s violence against society desire
The government has always violently repressed societal demands since the revolution. Although society considers it a social demand, the government views it as a political demand and has repressed and imprisoned protesters in response. There was considerable internal and external pressure on the government, including male spectator support and protest slogans against the Islamic State, as well as the writing of placards in support of women’s stadium rights, support from film actors and athletes, and pressure on FIFA. However, none of this has led the government to back down. And it continues to use harsh tactics to suppress protesters.
Suppressing women with pepper spray outside the stadium
The Iranian Football Federation was required to sell tickets to women on its official website for the April 2022 match between Iran and Lebanon in Mashhad, Iran, in accordance with FIFA regulations.
Despite the official sale of match tickets, stadium security prevented women from entering the stadium by using pepper spray.
Fans and spectators therefore demonstrated against Islamic ideology and sought to reclaim their rights. However, as is typical in such situations, the government responded with threats and physical force. It is incomprehensible that a small group of individuals who wished to see “their” national football team up close were subjected to such brutality. As a result of this action, the Iranian Football Federation risks being fined or punished by the International Football Federation.