FIFA pushes Iran to allow female football fans back into stadiums for World Cup qualifiers

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has put pressure on Iran in an attempt to ensure that the country will allow female football fans to attend matches in the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. (AFP)
Updated 21 June 2019

FIFA pushes Iran to allow female football fans back into stadiums for World Cup qualifiers

  • President Rouhani has on several occasions expressed desire to allow women into games
  • Country’s prosecutor general said he objected to women attending matches, saying it would “lead to sin.”

PARIS: FIFA president Gianni Infantino has put pressure on Iran in an attempt to ensure that the country will allow female football fans to attend matches in the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, according to a letter sent to the Iranian Football Federation and seen by AFP.

In the letter dated June 18, Infantino mentioned his attendance at the second leg of the Asian Champions League final in Tehran last November, between Iranian club Persepolis and Kashima Antlers of Japan, when women were allowed into the stadium, “for the first time in 40 years.”

Infantino referred to “these important first steps” but regretted that women were not then permitted to attend the friendly between Iran and Syria earlier this month, and that “a number of women seeking to attend the match were detained by security forces for a number of hours.”

“Unfortunately, this is, I also have to say, not in line with the commitments given to us in March 2018 by President (Hassan) Rouhani when we were assured that important progress would be made on this matter soon,” he added.

The FIFA president, who in early June was re-elected for a four-year term, referred to the spotlight placed on women in football at the ongoing World Cup in France and asked Iranian authorities to provide “concrete steps” before July 15 toward allowing women to attend qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which start in September.

Women have been barred from attending matches since the 1979 Islamic revolution, with clerics arguing they must be protected from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.

Described as a moderate conservative, President Rouhani has on several occasions expressed a desire to allow women into games.

However, last October, the country’s prosecutor general said he objected to women attending matches, saying it would “lead to sin.”

Female fans were allowed to attend football matches for the first time in Saudi Arabia in January 2018, with the first match that women attended being the Al-Ahli match against Al-Batin on Jan. 12.

The Saudi Arabian government announced the lifting of the ban in 2017 and as a result, women are now able to enjoy Saudi Professional League matches.

(With AFP)


Lankan Cricket team arrives in Pakistan after a decade

Updated 45 min 17 sec ago

Lankan Cricket team arrives in Pakistan after a decade

  • Pakistan promised top-level security for Sri Lankan team
  • Two test matches will be played at Rawalpindi and Karachi

ISLAMABAD: Sri Lanka’s cricket team arrived in Pakistan on Monday to play two-test series that will be the first test in Pakistan in over a decade.
Sri Lanka was the last team to play a test match in Pakistan in 2009 before the team came under terrorist attack at Lahore and the doors to international cricket were closed on Pakistan.
The test series in Pakistan was made possible after Sri Lanka toured three months ago and played an ODI and a Twenty20 series at Karachi and Lahore without any security trouble.
Pakistan’s government has promised top-level security, normally reserved for heads of state. The two test matches will be played at Rawalpindi and Karachi.
A security force of over 4,000 security, including policemen from Punjab province and the Pakistan Army, will be deployed around the Pindi Cricket Stadium where the first test starts on Wednesday. Karachi will host the second test from Dec. 19-23.
Pakistan Cricket Board’s director cricket operations Zakir Khan welcomed the Sri Lanka team members at Islamabad International Airport before the team drove to the hotel amid tight security on Monday.
Sri Lanka suffered a setback just before the departure from home when fast bowler Suranga Lakmal was ruled out due to dengue fever. He was replaced by Asitha Fernando, who has played for Sri Lanka’s under-23 and emerging teams.
The team will be led by Dimuth Karunaratne and include seasoned players like Angelo Matthews and Dinesh Chandimal. The three players were among 10 high-profile Sri Lanka cricketers who refused to tour Pakistan three months ago due to security concerns.