DesPardes + PKonweb

Women Attend Soccer Game in Tehran for First Time in 40 Years

Soccer is a national sport in Iran just as well as in Saudi Arabia, it’s regional rival where women have been allowed to attend games –since 2018.

DESPARDES REPORT — Iranian women, wearing jester hats and face paint, blew horns and cheered Thursday at the first FIFA soccer match they’ve freely attended in nearly 40 years.

They wrapped themselves in the country’s flag and watched with excitement as Iran beat Cambodia 14-0 in a 2022 World Cup qualifier at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium.

“We are so happy that finally we got the chance to go to the stadium. It’s an extraordinary feeling,” said Zahra Pashaei, a 29-year-old nurse. “At least for me, 22 or 23 years of longing and regret lies behind this.”

Under pressure from FIFA, Iran let a carefully controlled number of women into the stadium, arranging female security personnel to watch the female fans. Tickets reserved for women sold out within minutes after going on sale on October 4.

Many hailed the move as sign of progress.

Soccer is a national sport in Iran just as well as in Saudi Arabia, it’s regional rival– a similar move to let women in stadiums and watch the popular game was made last year by the Kingdom– part of an easing of strict rules on gender separation by the two ultra-conservative Muslim countries.

“There can be no stopping or turning back now,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement on the Tehran move. “History teaches us that progress comes in stages, and this is just the beginning of a journey.”