Sunday, 22 September, 2019

Iranian female football fan who self-immolated outside court dies

Iranian Esteghlal FC club fans cheer during their AFC Champions League football match Enlarge Image Iranian Esteghlal FC club fans cheer during their AFC Champions League football match AFP Getty Images
Shannon Reynolds | 11 September, 2019, 04:12

The authorities in Iran regularly stop women from entering stadiums.

"This discriminatory ban must end immediately and the worldwide community, including football's world governing body, FIFA, and the Asian Football Confederation, must take urgent action to end the ban and to ensure that women are allowed access to all sports stadiums without discrimination or risk of prosecution or punishment", he said.

Since 1981, Iran has banned women spectators from football and other stadiums, as per Human Right Watch.

Khodayari died on Monday at a Tehran hospital after suffering burns across 90 per cent of her body.

The woman - who has used the alias of Sahar - was forced to wait six months for her trial only to find out, upon her arrival at the courthouse last week, that it had been postponed because the judge had a family emergency.

Upon hearing it, the woman set herself on fire.

Her sister said that Sahar suffered from biopolar and had attempted suicide once before. Her father said she had stopped taking medication a year ago.

"She was forced to take her very simple wish to the grave", her favorite soccer club Esteghlal wrote in a statement.

Esteghlal issued a statement, offering condolences to Ms Khodayari's family. However, police arrested her after an altercation and detained her. She reportedly returned to the court to retrieve her seized mobile phone and heard she could face prison time.

Iran-based women's advocacy group @OpenStadiums, mourned Sahar's death.

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An Iranian football fan has died after she set herself alight in what has been seen as a protest against a ban on women in football stadiums.

Iranian-Armenian soccer player Andranik "Ando" Teymourian, the first Christian to be the captain of Iran's national squad and also an Esteghlal player, said in a tweet that one of Tehran's major soccer stadiums should be named after Khodayari "in the future".

Following the incident, thousands expressed outrage over a persisting stadium entry ban for women.

No verdict had been delivered in her case by the time of her death.

The case has led to a debate in Iran about the decision to bar women from men's soccer matches and prompted several celebrities and sports stars to speak out.

Iran has come under pressure from Federation Internationale de Football Association to allow women to attend qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, reportedly giving it a deadline of August 31.

However, local matches have continued the restriction.

The judiciary's Mizan Online website said a young woman had been arrested when she tried to enter a stadium and faced charges of offending "public chastity and insulting" law enforcement officers. "A day when even if we are not around, our grandchildren will remember what a hard path we went through to achieve our most basic human rights".

Activists are now calling for the ban on women attending men's matches to be lifted.

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