Iranian women have snapped up tickets for Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against Cambodia in Tehran after they were released for sale via a website.
Iranian authorities had assured world governing body FIFA that women would be allowed to attend the game and have set aside sections of the stadium for women. The semi-official Iranian news agency ISNA said the 3,500 tickets allocated for women sections sold out within minutes of going on sale on Friday morning.
FIFA told Reuters it had been informed a total of 4,600 tickets for women would be made available in the initial batches but that it expects more to be put on sale to meet the demand from female fans. A spokesman for the organization said FIFA would be sending a delegation to the Azadi Stadium in Tehran to monitor the access for women.
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An activist with the group “Open Stadiums” which campaigns for Iranian women to be able to freely attend matches, said tickets for the game at the 78,000-capacity venue had gone on sale early on Friday morning and were sold via a website in small blocks.
The activist said the tickets went on sale without any announcement from the Iranian Football Federation and news of their availability only reached women via social media. “It was quite a chaotic situation,” she told Reuters.
The group welcomed the sale but said it was concerned that women only sections stopped mothers taking their sons to matches and that it was also unclear how women with disabilities would be accommodated. At Iran’s friendly against Syria in June, women were locked out of the Azadi Stadium and detained by security forces.
A female Iranian fan died last month after setting herself on fire to protest against her arrest for trying to enter a match. Sahar Khodayari, dubbed “Blue Girl” for the colors of her favorite team Esteghlal, died in hospital after her self-immolation outside a court where she feared being jailed for six months after trying to attend the match disguised as a man.