By Armin Baldwin
The Chief of Tehran’s Police has said that his forces will arrest any female football fans who go to watch the derby match between Persepolis and Esteghlal at Azadi Stadium on Sunday, September 22.
Hossein Rahimi said: “No woman or girl is allowed to enter Azadi Stadium to watch the derby held in the capital, and if they are seen, they will be arrested. Tickets are sold online, therefore, women and girls are not allowed to gather outside Azadi Stadium.”
Female football fans in Iran are not allowed to watch matches, like this one between two leading Tehran football teams, because of the mullahs’ sexist laws that restrict women’s ability to do as they wish.
Massoumeh Ebtekar, director of the presidential directorate for women and family affairs, said, “Women’s presence in stadiums is not a political issue and the government does not have any opposition to the presence of women in stadiums.”
If that were true, then why are women arrested for attending matches? Why are women not allowed to buy tickets to football games? Why do other officials claim that women couldn’t possibly attend matches because of the vulgarity of the football chants and the fact that the players only wear shorts? If this is not a political matter and there is no opposition to women in stadiums, why are they not allowed to go?
It was only at the beginning of this month that Sahar Khodayari, the female football fan known as the “blue girl”, died from her injuries after setting herself on fire outside a courthouse in Tehran to protest a six-month jail sentence for her attempt to enter Azadi Stadium dressed as a man.
Despite President Hassan Rouhani government’s publicity stunts, aimed at convincing the world that he would end this pointless ban, the Iranian Regime cannot ease restrictions on Iranian women and female athletes because any moves in this direction will undermine all of the Regime’s misogynistic laws, which is what the Regime is based on.
That’s why Iranian officials issue such warnings and overlook the deadline set by FIFA. The Regime will no more allow women to attend football matches than they would allow women to choose their own clothing.
The Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) issued a statement on September 10, calling for action against the Iranian regime’s sexist laws that have taken a great toll on Iranian women.