Iranian authorities have detained a pair unnamed women who were trying to attend a game of football in Tehran between local teams at the Azadi Stadium. In Iran, only men are allowed to attend sporting events.
A spokesperson for the Iranian Ministry of the Interior reportedly stated that the two women were not ‘arrested’ but only “detained“, and that they were released when the match ended. This report was according to ISNA, a news agency based in Iran.
Women have been barred from visiting sporting events ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The match was also attended by the President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, who was in attendance with the Iranian Sports Minister Masoud Soltanifar. When a journalist asked Soltanifar whether women would be allowed to attend future games or not, the live broadcast was cut off.
The last few months have seen an increase in women protesting Iran’s discriminatory laws, as well as in more general protests against the state as a whole. Late December and early January saw thousands take to the streets around the country, leading to mass arrests and the deaths of over 20 people. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, drew international attention and condemnation for the way his law enforcement agencies dealt with the protests, as well as for his personal response to the protests, suggesting that the “enemies” of Iran had joined forces to stir up the protests.
According to local independent reports, there were calls on social media to protest Iran’s banning of women from sports games just before the match took place.
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