Iranian female football fans have snapped up all 3,500 tickets for the men’s game against Cambodia, with the entire allocated section for women in Tehran’s 90,000-capacity Azadi Stadium being sold out.
Iranian women have been banned from entering football stadia for men’s matches for the past 40 years, with foreign women only having been granted limited access.
Tickets for the October 10 FIFA World Cup qualifier match, which marks the first time in 40 years where woman can buy tickets, went on sale on Thursday and all released tickets “sold out in minutes.”
One section in the stands had initially been reserved for women, but “the tickets sold out in less than an hour”, the IRNA official news agency said.
Three additional sections were added, with those seats selling out “straight away”, meaning “the presence of 3,500 female Iranian fans is guaranteed”.
However, Human Rights Watch said that the attendance cap on women is “discriminatory, deceptive and dangerous.”
According to the New York City-headquartered human rights international non-governmental research and advocacy organisation, the five per cent quota on seats for women breaches FIFA’s human rights policy.
FIFA’s statutes claim that discrimination against women “is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion” of the FIFA member. FIFA’s human rights policy places “particular emphasis on identifying and addressing differential impacts based on gender and on promoting gender equality.”
Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, said: “Iran’s ban on half the population attending football matches has led to women and girls risking arrest, jail, and even their lives to challenge it.
“Any concessions by FIFA to limit the number of women who can attend stadiums only empowers Iran’s hardliners who have previously pre-selected women to attend while keeping the discriminatory restrictions in place.”
Iran has qualified for four of the last six World Cups, and drew with Portugal at the 2018 tournament.
Image: Fars News Agency