A senior Iranian official says a limited number of women will be allowed to attend Volleyball World League games in Tehran later this month as it lifts a ban on Iranian women attending male sporting events.

The ban came to worldwide attention last year over the detention of a British-Iranian woman trying to attend a men's match. While Iran's judiciary has said her case was linked to her work with the opposition, the FIVB, which oversees world volleyball, called for her release.

Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi tells The Associated Press that the government seeks to avoid a showdown with hard-liners with its decision.

Women generally have been banned from games since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, though foreign women can attend matches of their national teams.