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Women allowed into soccer stadium in Iran for 1st time in 37 years

Category: Sport 

An unusual sight filled many of the seats inside Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on Wednesday: women soccer fans. Officials opened up the stadium to women fans so they could join men in watching a televised broadcast of Team Melli’s matchup with Spain in the second round of the World Cup. It had been 37 years since women had been allowed into the venue to watch a game.


While the moment was an unquestionable show of progress, it didn’t happen without some static from the less progressive-minded. Police had initially denied women entry into the stadium and it was until Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli ordered the police to back off, according to BBC correspondent Hadi Nili.


Photos and videos of the momentous occasion were shared on social media by Open Stadiums, an advocacy group that has been pushing for women to be allowed to watch soccer live, and even by Iran’s national Team Melli.


Of course, it’s not the first time in 37 years that a woman has made it inside Azadi Stadium to watch a soccer game — it’s just that when women have made it in, they’ve been disguised as men. And they’ve been arrested when they were found out. Those were were in Azadi Stadium on Wednesday watch Team Melli battle a hard-fought match against Spain, but it was a game they lost 1-0 in a heartbreaker. Earlier this week, Tara Sepehri Far wrote a piece for Women in the World about the experience of traveling to Saransk, Russia, to see Team Melli play in person for the first time in her life — and lamented the fact that women in Iran, until Wednesday, hadn’t been able to do the same.




Tags: women World Cup

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