It was a simple and honest dream, this girl just wanted to watch a soccer match from the stadium in Iran, but of course in Iran Women are not allowed to attend most sports events…
She desperately wanted to realize her dream and came up with a plan, Sahar Khodayari, 29, sneaked into Azadi Stadium, but she was, need we say, arrested there in the stadium, Tehran’s main sporting venue.
The girl was sentenced to six months in jail, but she had other plans and did something very sad, she set herself on fire in front of the courthouse and later died in a Tehran hospital with 90% burns all over her body.
She made a public display that ended her life, and now we must deal with the issues surrounding what happened, it has certainly sparked public outcry from Iranian and international football players alike!
The former captain of the team, as well as other Iranians, are calling for a boycott of soccer games until the ban that is imposed on women attending matches is abolished.
Many officials have expressed their shock and dismay about what happened to Ms. Khodayari and we quite frankly are in full support of lifting bans like this, let the world not let her die in vain, please!
The match that she wanted to see was between her favorite team, Esteghlal, the blue team, and another team from the United Arab Emirates.
As news spread about what had happened to the girl, people started to call her the “Blue Girl” after the team she supports, even hashtagging her #BlueGirl, spreading the word to everyone and raising support!
The highest-ranking woman in the Iranian government, Masoumeh Ebtekar, President Hassan Rouhani’s vice president for women, issued a statement, she expressed:
“deep regret and sadness” for Ms. Khodayari’s death.
Her office has asked a representative to look over the case, since the terrible news of the burning, and they have also met with and talked to the mother and sister of the victim at the hospital.
Ms. Ebtekar stated that “a written report” on the case had been given to the judiciary, and the topic of allowing women in stadiums had been discussed in a cabinet meeting.
Iranian activists tell us that Ms. Khodayari’s family has been threatened and effectively forced not to talk to the news or media…
Looking at the history of the ban, Iran put it in place after the 1979 Islamic revolution, because religious laws were brought into effect to separate men and women in public areas.
For well over a decade the activists and feminists in Iran, including the hardened footy fans have battled to regain the right to go to football matches.
Just 14 years ago, there were weekly gatherings outside the Azadi stadium, people held signs that read:
“let the other half of the society in.”
Small groups of women dressed in men’s clothes, with pretend facial hair sneaking into the stadium!
They caught the attention of international rights groups and the Iranian public too, they even made a movie in 2006 called “Offside,” by the famed Iranian director Jaffar Panahai.
Even more recently in 2019, the women had a group and were lobbying FIFA as well as local teams and human rights groups to put pressure on the Iranian government…
Consequently, FIFA has warned Iran to lift the ban on women attending international soccer matches before the country’s national team will host a World Cup qualifying game.
Iran in response to the pressure has allowed limited numbers of women, relatives of players and government officials to attend some games, however, women are still not allowed to buy tickets!!
Deputy director of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran, Omid Memarian said:
“They are basically trying to manipulate FIFA …Even though FIFA has been notified of Iran’s repeated violations and manipulation tactics to allow women in, still Iran has gotten away with this discrimination.”
FIFA said after Ms. Khodayari’s passing:
“We are aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it.”
Officials of Iran said that even if they could allow women that the arena would have to be changed to create a special section just for women.
Well we don’t quite have the words to express what’s going on here, do you? Leave us a comment below and tell us!