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FIFA hails Iran over stadium acces to women

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The Federation of International Football Association President Gianni Infantino is optimistic about the impact of the global governing body’s engagement policy with Iran regarding the inclusion of women in football, citing recent developments that allowed some women to attend the Tehran derby on Thursday.

Campaigners, including Open Stadiums and former Iranian athletes, had urged FIFA to ban Iran from the World Cup due to the ongoing exclusion of women from football matches. 

However, Infantino has advocated for a strategy of direct engagement with Iran rather than imposing a ban. 

He expressed satisfaction with the news that women were permitted to attend the Iran Pro League match, considering it a positive outcome of FIFA’s approach.

Infantino shared details of his meeting with Iran President Ebrahim Raisi in New York City in September, during which they discussed the progress of women’s football in the country and the presence of women in football stadiums. 

“In September, I had the pleasure of meeting Iran President Ebrahim Raisi in New York City, where we discussed the development of women’s football in the country and progress made regarding the presence of women in football stadiums,” he said in a statement released on social media.

“It was, therefore, with great delight that I learned around 3,000 women attended the Tehran derby between Persepolis FC and Esteghlal FC today.

“Thanks to the ongoing dialogue between FIFA and the Islamic Republic of Iran Football Federation, progress is being made.”

Acknowledging the ongoing dialogue between FIFA and the Islamic Republic of Iran Football Federation, Infantino emphasized the progress being made. 

He recalled a previous instance, under his influence, where a small group of female fans gained access to Persepolis’s home leg of the 2018 Asian Champions League final in Tehran.

“Iran is a significant force in Asian football and it is important that we continue to nurture the positive and fruitful working relationship we have built,” Infantino added.

While acknowledging progress, Infantino noted that challenges persist, as evidenced by female fans being barred from a World Cup qualifying game in March 2022, and disturbing incidents, such as the use of pepper spray on female supporters outside the stadium.

The calls to ban Iran from the World Cup arose amidst nationwide protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, who was in the custody of the morality police for an alleged violation of the Islamic dress code.

Infantino announced plans to visit Iran soon and expressed his intention to meet with President Raisi once again to discuss football-related matters. 

 

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