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Tehran derby welcomes women: FIFA engagement yields progress in Iran, Infantino claims

Tehran derby welcomes women: FIFA engagement yields progress in Iran, Infantino claims

Tehran derby welcomes women: FIFA engagement yields progress in Iran, Infantino claims

FIFA President Gianni Infantino

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  • FIFA President Infantino hails progress after women attend the Tehran derby in Iran.
  • Engagement policy yields the first significant increase in female fans at a major match.
  • Infantino credits ongoing dialogue with Iranian officials for the development.
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President Gianni Infantino said that FIFA’s policy of engagement with Iran regarding the treatment of women in football has had a good impact after several were permitted to attend the Tehran derby on Thursday.

Last year, a group of ex-Iranian players and women’s rights activists called Open Stadiums requested FIFA disqualify Iran from the World Cup for preventing women from attending football games.

But Infantino chose a policy of personal interaction with Iran, applauding the announcement that women will be permitted to attend the Iran Pro League game on Thursday.

“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.”

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A few female supporters were allowed entry to Persepolis’s home leg of the 2018 Asian Champions League final in Tehran, thanks to pressure from Infantino.

Little has changed since then. In March 2022, during Iran’s World Cup qualifying match against Lebanon in Mashhad, video surfaced showing female fans being pepper-sprayed outside the stadium. Afterwards, female spectators were denied entry.

Calls to exclude Iran from the World Cup were made against the backdrop of nationwide demonstrations following Mahsa Amini’s murder while under the morality police’s detention for allegedly disobeying the Islamic dress code.

Infantino announced that he would be visiting Iran shortly and that he would meet with President Raisi once again “to further discuss football-related matters.”

“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,” said the Swiss diplomat.

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