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Iran Women at Soccer Match
News Bytes 10/15/2019 30 Comments

Thousands of Iranian women cheered inside a Tehran stadium last week. Female fans were watching the first professional soccer match they’ve been allowed to freely attend in decades—but they had to sit separate from the men.

Women have been banned from many sporting events in Iran since 1981. Iran is the world’s last nation to bar women from soccer matches. Saudi Arabia recently began letting women attend games.

In 2006, then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wanted women to attend matches to “improve soccer-watching manners and promote a healthy atmosphere.” However, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all matters, opposed the decision.

Last week, facing a ban from the international football association, Iran let a controlled number of women into Azadi Stadium in Tehran. The ladies wore hats and face paint; they blew horns and wrapped themselves in the country’s vivid red, green, and white as Iran thrashed Cambodia 14-0 in a 2022 World Cup qualifier.

“We are so happy that finally we got the chance to go to the stadium,” says Zahra Pashaei, a 29-year-old nurse who has seen soccer games only on television. “For me, 22 or 23 years of longing and regret lies behind this.”

Security women draped in black watched the group closely. All of the females sat at least 200 yards apart from the men at the match.

A British human rights group calls the soccer game decision “a cynical publicity stunt by the authorities intended to whitewash their image.”

Still, many people considered last week’s game attendance a victory. Shopkeeper Amir Ali Bagheri sold Pashaei a jersey before the match. Women “are so excited they are going to the stadium,” he said. Bagheri hopes “there will be freedom sooner so that they can attend all matches, not just the national team matches.” He adds, “That will be much better.”

(Zahra Pashaei (center) cheers during a 2022 World Cup qualifier soccer match between Iran and Cambodia. AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

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Most recent comments

First Comment!

I'm glad some were allowed to attend that match! I hope they are soon allowed to attend all matches freely.

2nd comment!!

I am glad they are letting them in! I have watched a lot of soccer games and a few world cups and I think those woman might just be glad to sit away from the men, they can get very ruff sometimes! I hope they let these woman go wherever they want freely. That just tells you what religion dose.

3rd comment!

That's awesome they get to go now! They sure seemed to have a lot of fun

4th Comment

Why is everyone saying First Comment! Second Comment! Third Comment?

5th comment

No Idea why are you? : D

6th Comment

Wow I'm glad they are finally getting to addend soccer games! I can't imagine being looked down upon because of my gender!!!


look at all of them they look so happy to be able to cheer for their country's soccer team!

7th Comment

I'm glad they got to go. They must have been so happy!
I love football. Not your American football, your soccer. I live in England, so Soccer is called football here. Anyways I love playing it so I'm glad they got to see it in real life!

I mean 8th comment!

I mean 8th comment!


Mirela, that is so cool that you live in England. I live in the USA so I didn't even know that WorldTeen extended that far! I also love to play Soccer. I am in the championships of my league. and I am sooooo glad that women are allowed to do stuff like this even though it may be with some restrictions. that may change in time!

Yes! I agree and thanks!

Yes! I agree and thanks!

But I don't think many people

But I don't think many people know about it here, I don't think - but I'm not sure.

@ Porter

What's the name of your league? My dad is a soccer coach. He calls t football. He's from Argentina.

@Nadia A

awesome my dad is too but he dont call it foot ball. i once had a coach from england that called it that and i was super confused for t 1st 2 days!
i live in enterprise, WC oregon

fifteenth comment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

wow that was fun


That's cool that they finally are letting woman in Iran do more stuff!

@ Gloriana B

I would be confused if that happened to me too!

This is great!

I'm glad that those women got to go to the match! I hope that, they will be able to go to all kinds of sports events soon!

Yes me too.

Yes me too.


Make sure you like it( under the picture)

Well, it's a start. Hopefully

Well, it's a start. Hopefully things will improve still more for Iranian women.

@Mirela J

I don't see where to like it.

@ Bethsarah G

Under the picture on the left it says " like " in a blue box and next to that it says tweet. If you press where it says ' like ', next to the
' like ' it should come up with a tick. That means you've liked it.

@Mirela J

I just have the tweet option

@ Bethsarah G

Maybe your not able to do I then. I don't know why. Try refreshing the page then check if it's there.

@Beth G

Yeah sometimes the like buttons don't show up on my screen either, but either try refreshing the page or maybe close the tab and reopen it.

@Mirela J

It still doesn't work. The safety thing might be blocking it.

26th comment

THIS IS GREAT!!!!! I Ioooooove soccer , and i didn't know about those women not being allowed

@ Bethsarah G

Yes it might.

This is Massimo A

That's Great! : D

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