SAEED KHAN/Getty Images
Iranian women were allowed into Tehran’s Azadi Stadium for the first time in 37 years on Wednesday to watch Iran’s FIFA 2018 World Cup clash against Spain on television.
Women are not allowed to enter stadiums in Iran, but permission was given for female fans to support their national team’s efforts in Russia, per Open Stadiums:
Women/families finally entered to Azadi stadium after 37 years of ban, to watch #IRNESP on screen. https://t.co/oSBXHMWI8h
Journalist Sobhan Hassanvand showed the scene at the Azadi Stadium:
Sobhan Hassanvand @Hassanvand
UNPRECEDENTED: Iranian women at Azadi stadium to watch (televised) #IRNESP at #worldcup
The supporters still faced some difficulties entering the stadium as police initially blocked the event from taking place. However, Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli then intervened to ensure it went ahead, per the BBC’s Hadi Nili:
Hadi Nili @HadiNili
rare moment for Iranian women to be allowed into this big stadium, after the Interior Minister stepped in & ordered the police to get along. tho many alrdy left the evnt or decided to not go there as police was not allowing ppl over the last couple of hrs.
The Twitter account of Iran’s national team shared an image of the scene at the stadium:
Team Melli IRAN @TeamMelliIran
ورزشگاه آزادی، هماکنون! https://t.co/02j1CiBPVq
The move follows pressure from Iranian women who have used the World Cup to protest against their ban. Banners were unfurled during Iran’s opening World Cup game against Morocco, per Open Stadiums:
Iran's first match almost done we saw lots of support from fans toward Iranian women who wants to break the stadiums ban.
Iranian women have also travelled to the World Cup in Russia in numbers to see their team take on Spain at the Kazan Arena. Sports writer Ian Herbert said there were as many women in Kazan as men:
ian herbert @ianherbs
As many Iranian women as men here in Kazan for #IRNESP tonight. Women are banned from watching men’s games in Iran. Iran’s ‘concession’ tonight is to allow women into stadiums to watch big screen coverage #IRN @openStadiums https://t.co/UqFNltVdez
Iran went into the World Cup with few expectations but pulled off a shock in their opening game as they beat Morocco 1-0.
They also gave a good account of themselves against Spain who are one of the favourites to win the tournament. Spain went ahead through Diego Costa, but Iran thought they’d equalised through Saeid Ezatolahi only to see the goal ruled out for offside by VAR.
It’s a historic moment for Iran although it remains to be seen if there will be a permanent change and women will be allowed to enter stadiums to watch live sporting events going forward.