Administrators of soccer’s 2022 World Cup have expressed exasperation with Iran after it reneged on promises to let female sports fans attend matches to cheer on the national team.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino was in Teheran for the Asian Champions League final last year when Iranian women were allowed to watch Persepolis play Kashima Antlers of Japan. Now things have gone backwards in the strict Islamic Republic.
Infantino wrote this week to Iranian soccer federation president Mehdi Taj to pleading it’s “all the more disappointing that it was not possible to keep up the positive momentum and to continue with similar progress.”
In a letter seen by the Associated Press, Infantino highlights a June 6 game between Iran and Syria when “the gates were closed to female spectators and when, it would appear, a number of women seeking to attend the match were detained by security forces for a number of hours.”
Infantino wants “concrete steps” from the federation by July 15 “to ensure that all Iranian and foreign women who wish to do so will be allowed to buy tickets and to attend the matches” for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, which begin in September.
Iranian women have long been banned from men’s soccer matches in the Islamic Republic, based at least partly on the theory that females should not hear fans swear, as Breitbart News reported.
Last year female football fans donned fake beards, mustaches and wigs to sneak into a major soccer match in Iran in defiance of the country’s strict Islamic codes of conduct.
Pictures of the women wearing their disguises as well as videos were released after the event as participants sought to show the world their eagerness to defy Iran’s rulers and their religious rulings on female chastity and piety.
Prior to the Islamic revolution of 1979, women were allowed to attend sporting events.
In 2018 Iran banned some of its women players from billiard sports competitions for a year for violating the Islamic codes of conduct at a tournament in China, as Breitbart Jerusalem reported.
AP contributed to this report