Again, Iran denies women entry to football stadium

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Iran has once again denied women entry to a football stadium to watch an international match, leaving hundreds of ticketed fans locked out, Iranian media said yesterday.

The World Cup qualifier against Lebanon on Tuesday night, won 2-0 by Iran, was played at the Imam Reza stadium in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

“About 2,000 Iranian women, who had bought tickets for the Iran-Lebanon match, were present in the perimeter of Imam Reza stadium, but could not enter the stadium,” ISNA news agency said.

Iran’s team captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh joined in criticism of the lockout.

“I don’t think anything would have happened if women had come to the stadium, and this could promote our culture,” he said, quoted on IRIB state television.

Mohsen Davari, governor of Mashhad, told IRIB: “I apologise that many people couldn’t enter the stadium…”

“Unfortunately, a large number of people outside the stadium were deprived of watching the game.”

In the face of the controversy, President Ebrahim Raisi yesterday instructed the interior ministry to look into the incident.

For his part, Iran’s attorney general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said on radio that “if conditions allowed the sale of tickets to women, a suitable place had to be found for them”.

The case was “not acceptable… and shows poor management”, he said.

In January, women were allowed to attend an international for the first time in almost three years, for a World Cup qualifier against Iraq.