Sports

Iran Lets A Few Hundred Women Attend Football Game

Iran Lets A Few Hundred Women Attend Football Game

Tehran giant Persepolis is unbeaten at home in the cavernous Azadi Stadium, yet it will need to not only maintain that record, but also avoid conceding if it wishes to have a realistic chance of overturning Kashima's first leg lead. It was the first time that Kashima has won the Asian title, the Persian Football website said.

Kashima Antlers secured a 0-0 draw to win the final match 2-0 on aggregate.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino and his Asian Football Confederation (AFC) counterpart Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa attended the game and Infantino praised Iranian officials for the decision to permit women to attend days after FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura met campaigners in Switzerland.

Parliament member Fatemeh Zolqadr said earlier that world soccer's governing body Federation Internationale de Football Association had demanded women be allowed to attend top-level games.

Hundreds of Iranian women were allowed into the Azadi Stadium.

"The AFC is determined to build on this momentum to ensure our competitions continue to provide the ideal stage for the Continent's undeniable talent to shine and to excite our passionate fans".

Iranian women and girls have not been allowed to attend any men's sporting events in the country for most of the 39 years since the Iranian Revolution, and have not been granted access to matches involving top clubs since 1981.

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Iran is not a country that yields under global pressure, but FIFA, the world's football governing football, has done significant progress, encouraging the government to have a more open and inclusive approach towards women at special events.

After the revolution nearly 40 years ago, women were allowed to attend a football match in Iran for the first time in November 2001 when around 20 Irish women were among the crowd for an Iran-Ireland World Cup qualifier.

The restrictions on local women were also relaxed for an global friendly against Bolivia last month, only to be reinstated under pressure from hardliners within the government.

After that match, women were rarely allowed to watch men's football in stadiums and in very limited numbers.

Video posted on social media last week showed officials at the Azadi Stadium discussing possible locations for a "family stand", an initiative that would permit women to access the stadium.

Kashima's triumph was the second straight year a Japanese team had won the title, following Urawa Red Diamonds' victory last year.

Persepolis coach Branko Ivankovic sent on Mohsen Rabiekhah and Ehsan Alvanzadeh in a desperate attempt to break the deadlock but to no avail.


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