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Women at Iranian football: the image waited for since 1981

Around 100 women witnessed the friendly in Tehran as Iran beat Bolivia. It is being seen by many as a further step in the right direction of women's rights.

Women at Iranian football: the image waited for since 1981

Around 100 women were in the Tehran stadium on Tuesday to see the friendly match between Iran and Bolivia in what appeared like a clear step in the right direction in the struggle for women's rights in the country. Not for 37 years had women been allowed to enter stadia, after the Islamist government that seized power banned them in the late 1970s. The last recording of women being accepted into football arena in Iran was back in 1981, following which they had to disguise themselves as men - at the risk of being detained - in order to watch live football in their home country.

Women watch Iran 2-1 Bolivia

According to state agency ILNA, a group mainly composed of players' families had the privilege of witnessing first-hand the clash against the Bolivians. And they got to see their side run out 2-1 victors thanks to goals from Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Mehdi Torabi. The group were noticeable in the stands and broke the long-standing barrier that has generated numerous complaints from associations, activists and governments for what has been considered a violation of women's rights.

"It's just a trick"

In recent times, Iran has allowed women access to local volleyball and basketball matches, but despite the changes, it is still felt that there is a lot of work to be done on the matter. Brussels-based women's rights activist Darya Safani spoke of the Iranian authorities' "trickery" after what happened yesterday:

"As long as women cannot buy tickets, the stadium ban is not lifted. It's the same thing they do for volleyball: under the pressure of activists, they choose some women who can get in. It's just a trick."


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