On Saturday, March 30, 2019, law enforcement agents prevented women’s entrance to Azadi Stadium to watch the game between Iran’s top two teams, Esteghlal and Persepolis.
One of the girls, Shabnam Rouhi, who intended to enter the Azadi Stadium, said, “For me or better to say for us, to see the doors up close, which actually means just walking near the white bars of Azadi Stadium and seeing the passion of the male audience, it was never a big wish to go and sit on the newly-renovated chairs of Azadi Stadium, but just having the right to go was my goal.” (The state-run Khabar Online news agency – March 31, 2019)
This ban is being applied while during a meeting with the secretary of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution on December 31, 2018, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Massoud Soltanifar had stated, “All the infrastructures are provided for women’s presence in the stadium.” (The state-run Moaser news agency – December 31, 2018)
However, regarding women’s entrance to the stadiums, Shahindokht Molaverdi, presidential deputy for citizen’s affairs proclaimed that the circumstances for women’s presence in stadiums have not been prepared, yet. (The state-run Entekhab news agency – October 25, 2017)
Iranian women’s entrance to stadiums to watch football games is banned and those who try to do so are arrested. But Iran’s young women and girls have refused to abide by this rule, entering stadiums in various ways and making their photos public as an act of protest.
On April 27, 2018, three young women were identified and arrested by security forces outside Tehran’s Azadi Stadium for attempting to enter to watch the football game. (The state-run Fars news agency – April 27, 2018)
However, five young women who managed to sneak through and watch the game in the stadium published their photo on social media.
Two young girls were also arrested in Isfahan (central Iran) on April 27, 2018, for attempting to enter the Naghsh-e Jahan Stadium to watch the match between their favorite football teams.