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FIFA Chief: Iranian President Rouhani Pledged Women Will Get Access to Stadiums

FIFA Chief: Iranian President Rouhani Pledged Women Will Get Access to Stadiums

The Iranian government has assured FIFA President Gianni Infantino that Iranian women will soon be given access to football stadiums across the country.

The Islamic Republic has long barred women from attending male soccer matches, based at least partly on the theory that women should not hear male fans swear and curse.

Women are banned from attending games in Iran and 35 were arrested for trying to get into Thursday's match.

Iran has blocked several dozen women from attending a major Tehran football match witnessed by the head of FIFA, the sport's world governing body, prompting criticism from rights activists.

Infantino said he met Rouhani during a visit to Tehran on Thursday where he also attended a derby between Esteghlal and Persepolis, one of the top fixtures in the Iranian season.

The FIFA President invited the Iranian Sports Minister and the President, Hassan Rouhani, to attend the opening ceremony of the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

At the FIFA Conference for Equality and Inclusion on Friday, Infantino addressed the issue by expressing hope that his trip would help to lift the controversial ban.

Fifa's president, Gianni Infantino, was also in attendance, along with Iranian Sport Minister Masoud Soltanifar.

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They believed that this protest against the sexist ban on women attending men's football games, which has been in place since the mullahs took power in 1979, would have extra prominence with Infantino there and attract the FIFA chief's attention to the issue.

The Iranian minister denied there were any legitimate security concerns.

"One of the main purposes of the Federation Internationale de Football Association president's trip to Iran was to raise this particular issue and engage in discussions with the Iranian political and sporting authorities in order to make concrete progress on this matter".

Iranian women watch the Iranian men's basketball team play Iraq in a FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifier at Azadi Indoor Stadium in Tehran, Feb. 25, 2018.

Syrian women were, however, provided with access to the venue to cheer for the their national team.

Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, a prominent Iranian religious leader, has been one of the strongest supporters of banning women from sporting venues.

A group of female fans that had bought the tickets for the game were told they could not enter the stadium.

In phone calls from Iran to VOA Persian's Straight Talk show Thursday, one man said that if women went to football stadiums, they would find their dignity violated by men shouting foul language and acting aggressively.


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