Iran assures FIFA that women can attend football qualifier

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FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that Iran has assured atht ‘as of the next international game of Iran, women will be allowed to enter football stadiums.’ (Reuters)
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An Iranian woman watches a football match at a cafe in Tehran on Sunday, September 15, 2019. (WANA via Reuters)
Updated 22 September 2019

Iran assures FIFA that women can attend football qualifier

  • FIFA traveled to Iran ahead of the weekend for talks on the matter of women and football
  • The Islamic republic has barred female spectators from football and other stadiums since 1981

MILAN: FIFA has been “assured” that Iran will lift its 40-year ban and allow women to attend a World Cup qualifying game next month.

Football’s governing body wants Iran to end its ban on women entering stadiums that breaches international football statutes prohibiting discrimination.

Global attention on the ban followed the death this month of a 29-year-old activist, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire outside a courthouse. She had been detained for dressing as a man to enter a football stadium in Tehran and faced six months in prison.

“There is women’s football in Iran but we need Iranian women as well to be able to attend the men’s game,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a speech at a conference on women’s football on Sunday. “And we need to push for that with respect but in a strong and forceful way. We cannot wait anymore.

“We have been assured, that as of the next international game of Iran, women will be allowed to enter football stadiums. This is something very important, it is 40 years that this has not happened, with a couple of exceptions, but it is important to move to the next level and to the next stage.”

FIFA sent an inspection team to Iran this week to meet government and football officials ahead of Iran’s match against Cambodia at the 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10 — its first home match of the 2022 qualifying competition.

Infantino’s comments drew praise from United States outgoing coach Jill Ellis, who was at the same FIFA conference in Milan, two months after leading the American women’s team to a second successive World Cup title.

“I think it’s huge,” Ellis said. “FIFA has enough of a pull and ability to influence change and I think it’s absolutely the right thing. I mean I don’t think there should be any discrimination period and to not allow women to go see football I think is, I just can’t even wrap my brain around it in terms of it being something. I think if FIFA can influence that, I think it’s great.”


Boris Johnson urges ‘clarity’ on Saudi bid for Newcastle FC

Updated 09 August 2020

Boris Johnson urges ‘clarity’ on Saudi bid for Newcastle FC

  • The consortium, led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, pulled out last month

DUBAI: Pressure is growing on English football authorities to explain why they have not approved a £300 million ($390 million) takeover of Newcastle United football club by a Saudi-led consortium.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would like to see a statement from the Premier League on its failure to reach a decision on the deal, agreed upon in April.

“There must be clarity on why there was a significant delay in a decision being made, and on the reasons why the consortium de- cided to withdraw their bid,” John- son wrote in response to fans.

“I appreciate that many Newcastle fans were hoping this takeover would go ahead and can understand their sense of disappointment.”

The consortium, led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, pulled out last month because of what it called an “unforeseeablylong process” in obtaining approval.

But that has not dimmed enthusiasm in the northeast of England for the deal, which came with the prospect of hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in the club and the community. An online petition organized by Newcastlefans has attracted nearly 100,000 signatures, and 15 MPs have written to the Premier League chief executive Richard Masters express- ing their dismay.

Despite the formal withdrawal of the bid, the consortium members are keen to table the offer again if the logjam can be cleared.

The multibillionaire Reuben brothers, who already have sports business interests in the English northeast and who would own 10 per cent of Newcastle as part of the consortium, said last week they were “totally committed” to the deal and asked the Premier League to think again.

Amanda Staveley, the British financier who brokered the deal and

who would also take 10 per cent, said she was “humbled” by the fans’ continuing support for the takeover.

“Speaking on behalf of myself and my family, the Reuben family and the PIF, we are not just overwhelmed by the support, we are humbled by it.”

 

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