Iranian women pose as men to watch football game in Tehran stadium

Several Iranian women defied an official ban on female spectators at sports events by donning fake beards and wigs and posing as men to attend a major football match in Tehran. The move has been hailed as “fearless” by activists. 

In Iran, women have not been allowed to attend male football games since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Asked if it was worth risking, one of the women told the BBC: “Of course why not? Our goal is to keep going until they allow all women to go.”

“I am very proud of them and impressed that they can be so fearless, because it is a huge risk that they do that,” Melody Safavi, Iranian women’s rights activist and singer told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from New York.

The women were attending a match between rival teams Esteghlal and Persepolis in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on April 27. Persepolis won the match 3-0, winning the Persian Gulf Pro League title for the fourth time.

Women have been previously punished for attending sports fixtures.

In March, 35 women were temporarily detained for trying to gain entry to a football match.

They were trying to attract the attention of FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino, who was also attending the game (BBC). The group wanted to raise awareness about the issue and later in the day, Infantino said that Iranian President Rouhani promised him that women would soon be allowed to watch men’s football matches (Reuters).

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