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'Cross-dressing' Iranian women busted sneaking into men-only football game

Women have been barred from sporting stadiums since the 1979 Islamic revolution [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 February, 2017

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Eight Iranian women who disguised themselves as men to attend a football match despite an official ban were prevented from entering the stadium.

Eight Iranian women who disguised themselves as men to attend a football match despite an official ban were prevented from entering the stadium, an official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Iran argues that its ban on women attending sporting events in the same stadiums as men is necessary to protect them from rude language that might emanate from the stands.

"Eight girls dressed up as men to try to enter the Azadi stadium" in southwest Tehran on Sunday, the Tasnim news agency reported.

It cited interior ministry official Alireza Adeli as saying the girls wanted to "go to the derby between Esteghlal and Persepolis, but security guards spotted them and prevented them from entering".

The two teams are the oldest and most famous in the country, and Esteghlal won Sunday's game 3-2.

Women have been barred from sporting stadiums since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

     
      Human Rights Watch has said Iran should be banned from
hosting volleyball tournaments [Getty]

The ban was the subject of the award-winning 2006 film "Offside" by Jafar Panahi, in which a group of women dress up as men to sneak into the Azadi stadium to watch that year's World Cup qualifying playoff against Bahrain.

The government of moderate President Hassan Rouhani wants to ease restrictions to some events, and women have been allowed to attend basketball and volleyball events, albeit from a separate section of the stands.

Adeli said the attempt by the girls to sneak into Sunday's match was nothing new.

"Girls have tried in the past to enter the stadium," he said, adding that women would remain barred because of "crowding" and "inappropriate conditions".

Last year, Human Rights Watch said Iran should be banned from hosting volleyball tournaments until women are allowed unrestricted access to stadiums.

An Iranian activist protested at the Rio Olympics last year where Iran's men's volleyball team competed in the games for the first time.

Darya Safai, who held up a banner stating: "Let Iranian women enter their stadiums", told The New Arab that Iran's restrictions were part of the regime's "systematic discrimination of women" and the belief that they should "be marginalised".

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