Iran lets women at­tend Asian fi­nal

Gulf Times Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Iran al­lowed hun­dreds of lo­cal women to at­tend the Asian Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal in Tehran on Satur­day, Ira­nian news agen­cies re­ported, in a pos­si­ble step to­wards end­ing their decades-old ex­clu­sion from top soc­cer matches in the coun­try.

The semi-official news agency Tasnim said an un­spec­i­fied num­ber of women had en­tered the Azadi (Free­dom) Sta­dium to watch Perse­po­lis seek to over­turn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Ja­pan’s Kashima Antlers and claim their first con­ti­nen­tal crown.

It said the women had joined in with chant­ing in sup­port of Perse­po­lis, Iran’s best-sup­ported club.

Ira­nian women and girls have not been al­lowed to at­tend any men’s sport­ing events in the coun­try for much of the 39 years since the Islamic revo­lu­tion, and have not been granted ac­cess to matches in­volv­ing top clubs since 1981.

How­ever, in a rare move last month, about 100 women were al­lowed to watch a friendly soc­cer match be­tween Iran and Bo­livia.

As 80,000 peo­ple gath­ered at the Azadi to watch the game, Ira­nian so­cial me­dia re­ports said most of the women who had been let into the sta­dium were rel­a­tives of play­ers or mem­bers of Iran’s fe­male foot­ball and fut­sal teams and foot­ball fed­er­a­tion em­ploy­ees.

The ISNA news agency said fans around the sta­dium cheered as the women en­tered the stands set aside for them, which an official said had a ca­pac­ity of 850 seats.

Ela­heh Hamidikia, a re­porter for ISNA, said on Twit­ter that about 500 women were ad­mit­ted.

Fe­male fans from other coun­tries have pre­vi­ously been per­mit­ted to at­tend games at the Azadi Sta­dium.

Par­lia­ment mem­ber Fate­meh Zolqadr said ear­lier that world soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body FIFA had de­manded women be al­lowed to at­tend top-level games.

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