Sports stadiums in Iran are women’s battleground against a misogynist regime

Where does FIFA stand?

Iranian women have been struggling to enter sports stadiums for years and have turned them into a battleground against the mullahs’ misogynist regime.

In recent days, with the FIFA warning and setting a deadline for the Iranian regime to allow women enter the stadiums, the issue has sparked a backlash from government officials and received widespread media coverage.

According to a report by Varzesh 3, a state-run website, on August 3, 2019, “The World Football Federation has given the Iranian Federation until August 31, to determine the presence of women in sports stadiums … Dariush Mostafavi, head of the Football Federation’s Professional Licensing Appeals Committee, said: ‘FIFA has given a deadline of August 31, 2019 to determine the presence of women in stadiums and they are very serious about this issue … FIFA says women in Iran should be able to enter sports stadiums in league games and are very serious about this issue.’ ”

Regime officials, however, opposed such a move. Nasser Makarem Shirazi, a high-ranking cleric, said, “The atmosphere in the sports stadiums is not suitable for women, and there is no doubt that youth interaction is a source of many ethical and social problems. In addition, in some type of sports men do not have proper attire, therefore, women should refrain from attending these programs and at the same time they are able to watch these programs through different media outlets, so their presence is really not necessary.” (The state-run Tabnak website – August 6, 2019)

In a speech, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, the regime’s prosecutor general, also said, “When FIFA officially announces that if Iran’s sport does not allow the presence of women in sports stadiums, we will ban Iran from attending international games, it should not be taken lightly. What concern of FIFA is it to include a few women among the 10, 500, 1,000 or 5,000 spectators who go to watch a football match in a country?”

Montazeri went on, “Do you think their emphasis on the presence of women in football stadiums is because they really care about the well-being of our women or our sports facilities? Do you really think they care about our women being deprived of watching football? Don’t take these issues lightly.” (The state-run ISNA news agency – August 7, 2019)

The state-run Asr-e Iran website while printing a portion of FIFA’s statues wrote, “An hour ago, the country’s Prosecutor General made it clear that there was no need for women to enter the sports stadiums. And in such a situation we will probably have to wait for FIFA’s reaction and possible bans on Iranian football. According to the articles of Incorporation of the World Football Federation, this case is among the cases of gender discrimination that include the suspension of a country’s football and, even worse, expulsion from FIFA.”

Sports stadiums in Iran are women’s battleground against a misogynist regime

This section of the FIFA Statute 4.1 explicitly states that violation of the principle of non-discrimination will be punished first by suspension and then expulsion from FIFA.

It goes without saying that the regime’s anti-woman policies of excluding and depriving women of their most basic rights have now sparked protests from international bodies, pointing to the international rejection of the regime itself.

Lastly, it should be emphasized that it is no longer acceptable that the international bodies, including the FIFA, close their eyes and ignore the sexual apartheid practiced by the dictatorial regime preventing Iranian women from entering sports stadiums. It is time for FIFA to act in favor of Iranian women and impose serious sporting sanctions on the mullahs’ regime to force it to respect equal participation of women in sports and their right to freely enter all sports stadiums.