Iranian women will be allowed to enter a football stadium this week for the first time in nearly 40 years after pressure from soccer’s governing body FIFA forced Iran to lift its male-only policy, according to FIFA and state-run media.
FIFA ordered Iran to end its ban on letting women enter stadiums during an inspection visit last month. The organization said the ban breaches international soccer statutes prohibiting discrimination.
The ban caught the world’s attention last month after Sahar Khodayari, a 29-year-old activist dubbed the “Blue Girl,” self-immolated for fear of being sentenced for dressing up as a man to enter a soccer stadium in Tehran.
After an inspection visit, Iranian officials were told of FIFA’s “firm and clear position that women need to be allowed to enter football matches freely” with tickets sold to as many as wanted to attend.
Tickets for Thursday’s match between Iran and Cambodia at Tehran’s 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium have already sold out. A sports ministry official cited by AFP said some 3,500 women have purchased tickets.
“I still can’t believe this is going to happen because after all these years of working in this field, watching everything on television, now I can experience everything in person,” sports journalist Raha Poorbakhsh told the outlet.
Iran’s Fars News Agency said the women who attend Thursday's match will be segregated from the men and monitored by 150 female police officers.
Fox News' Travis Fedschun contributed to this report.