Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Iranian women flood soccer stadium for the first time in nearly 40 years

Following international pressure, government officials relax stadium ban for Iran’s first FIFA 2020 qualifying match
Farhad+Golriz%2C+Laney+Tower+Staff+Writer%2C+is+an+Iranian+American+soccer+fan.+%28Photo+by+Saskia+Hatvany%29
Farhad Golriz, Laney Tower Staff Writer, is an Iranian American soccer fan. (Photo by Saskia Hatvany)

Iranians love soccer, a sport which brings the whole country together. Home to one of the world’s largest football stadiums, most Iranians would probably tell you that soccer is the country’s most important, popular, and well-known sport. However, women have been left out of the festivities and stadiums since 1979, when they were banned from entering public men’s sporting events.

In fact, the revolution of 1979 also changed many other aspects of everyday life for women, controlling everything from where they can go, how they can act, who they can talk to and how they can dress. This is a far cry from pre-1979 Iran, where women were allowed to do as they wish — with no dress code and no rules restricting where they could go.

Nowadays, socializing between genders in public is forbidden, so women have not been allowed to attend sporting events where men are present since 1979.

Briefly, in April 2006, women were allowed by former president Mahmoud Ahmadinijad to attend soccer games, which made many of the members of the Shia religious opposition upset. A month later, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei imposed the ban once again.

Some women have risked severe punishment by disguising themselves as men in order to attend games. In 2007, Jafar Panahi, a famous Iranian filmmaker, produced a film called Offside which gave a glimpse into the experiences of women who dress as men in order to sneak past security to attend soccer games in Iran.

In May of 2019, a 29-year-old Iranian girl by the name of Sahar Khodayari, or “Blue Girl” (because she wore her favorite team’s color), went to a Esteghlal F.C. soccer game dressed as a man and was detained. She was held for three days before she was released and given a court date. On September 12, Sahar Khodayari showed up to court and was told she could face up to six months in prison. Khodayari set herself on fire and was taken to the hospital where she later died from her injuries.

After this tragic death of Khodayari, FIFA expressed their condemnation regarding the ban restricting women from accessing stadiums and told the Iranian government something had to change. The government agreed to let women attend games follow the public pressure from FIFA.

And just like that, on Thursday, October 10, Iran played their first World Cup qualifying game against Cambodia. Women were allowed to attend but sat in a women-only section. The game was exciting, and Iran defeated Cambodia 14–0.

As an Iranian-American who watched the game from afar, it makes me feel hopeful but disappointed that it took this many years to make this slight improvement.

Letting women enter the stadium might be a step forward, but having them sit in a separate section is still discrimination. I’ve been back to Iran once since my parents settled in Berkeley, and when I was in Iran I realized my experience as a man was very different — I didn’t have to endure the same restrictions and discrimination as the women of my country did. I hope that one day women in Iran will be free to mingle, express themselves and join their fellow Iranians in the same places without being scared for their lives.

After the historic game, I called one of my friends who lives in Tabriz, Iran, to discuss this event. She told me this is much like a child who takes their first step and is learning how to walk. She told me how all people, especially Iranian women, should be able to achieve their dreams and successes without facing inequality.

I couldn’t agree more.

About the Contributor
Farhad Golriz, Staff Writer
Farhad Golriz is an Iranian-American that was raised in Berkeley. He is interested in politics and foreign affairs – in particular, the Middle East. Farhad enjoys writing about events that have happened in other parts of the world and his goal is to be able to speak up for those who feel their voices are not being heard. Farhad’s goal is to one day become a Journalist and he is very honored to be a staff writer for The Citizen at Laney College.
Leave a Comment
Donate to The Citizen
$0
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *