Female soccer fans in Iran have been told they will no longer have to wear fake beards, mustaches and wigs to sneak into the crowd at competitive matches in the strict Islamic republic.
The move follows the announcement Sunday that women will be allowed into the stadium for Iran’s soccer World Cup qualifier in six weeks time.
The sport’s world governing body FIFA has been stepping up pressure on Iran to ensure women are allowed to attend qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, reportedly giving it until Saturday to comply or else face consequences.
An official at the sports ministry confirmed women would be able to watch Team Melli — as the national team are known — at their next home game in Tehran’s Azadi stadium.
“Women can go to the Azadi stadium on October 10, 2019 to watch the match between the Iranian national team and Cambodia for the Qatar World Cup qualifier,” said Jamshid Taghizadeh, the sports ministry’s deputy for legal and provincial affairs.
“There is no legal ban (on the presence of women in stadiums] and we must activate the infrastructure, which is underway,” he said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
“Our view on women, at all levels, is to prepare the necessary conditions for women’s success.”
Last year it was revealed female soccer fans in Iran had been using a variety of disguises to enter local matches and mingle with the all-male crowds.
Iranian women have long been banned from men’s soccer matches in Iran based at least partly on the theory that females should not hear fans swear. Prior to the Islamic revolution of 1979, women were allowed to attend sporting events.
Women have been punished for attending sporting contests in the past. In 2014, British-Iranian activist Ghoncheh Ghavami was detained after attempting to watch a men’s volleyball match in Iran. And in March 2018, 35 women were detained for trying to attend a football match.
In February last year, women were allowed to watch a major basketball game in Tehran – but they had to sit in an area separate to men.
This followed marches through the streets of Iran led by women calling for greater freedom and the ability to chose for themselves how to live their lives, down to the most basic right to choose how they dress.