Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino urges Iran to lift stadium ban on women

Infantino calls Iran to allow women into stadiums

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has raised hopes that Iran will lift a ban on women entering football stadiums before a World Cup qualifying game next month.

Twenty-nine-year-old Khodayari was arrested in March after disguising herself as a man and trying to sneak into a match between Iranian team Esteghlal and Al Ain from the United Arab Emirates at Tehran's Azadi Stadium.

Meetings with Iranian soccer officials, expected inside the next two weeks, were part of preparations for Iran's World Cup qualifying games - they face Cambodia at home on October 10 - and were not a specific response to Khodayari's death, said Federation Internationale de Football Association.

Infantino has urged Iran to lift the ban imposed after the Islamic Revolution 40 years ago.

"Our position is clear and firm", he said.

Iran play nearly all of their matches in the Azadi Stadium, where a special zone for women has been reserved, with specific entrances and toilets.

The FIFA officials, however, will check the preparations made by the Iranian FA to provide access to that October 10 match for women.

In a statement on Thursday, Infantino said he contacted Iran's football federation and Iranian authorities several times recently and was "hopeful" they were "receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation".

The Iranian authorities allow women to watch other sports, such as volleyball.

However, the ban violates the statutes of football governing body FIFA meaning Iran could be threatened with sanctions.

Female fans, however, have been denied access to matches since.

It looks likely that the Iranian government will heed Infantino's call, after spokesman Ali Rabiei told the Asean Football Federation: "Tickets will go on sale for all females for the [upcoming national team World Cup qualifying] match against Cambodia".

"We understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but now is the moment to change things".

Infantino's latest attempt to put pressure on Iran did not impress the Open Stadiums women's group which is campaigning to end the ban.

Main image: Women holding a placard in support of the Iranian women's stadium visit in in St. Petersburg during last year's World Cup.



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