DUBAI: The ban on women attending football matches in Iran is â€œunacceptableâ€ and must be lifted, the head of the sportsâ€™ world governing body said in a statement.
FIFAâ€™s position is â€œclear and firmâ€ and that women â€œhave to be allowedâ€ into football stadiums in the country, according to president Gianni Infantino.
Iranâ€™s ban on women attending sports stadiums was put in place shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, despite international pressure to let them attend.
Infantinoâ€™s call comes shortly after the death of Sahar Khodayari, a female fan who set herself on fire after she was denied access to a football stadium in Tehran.
Khodayari, dubbed the â€œBlue Girlâ€ because of the colors of the team she supported, Esteghlal FC, was detained and charged with â€œopenly committing a sinful actâ€ by â€œappearing in public without a hijabâ€ after attempting to enter a stadium â€œdressed as a manâ€ in March.
She died of her injuries on September 9 in a hospital after setting herself on fire outside a court earlier this month.
â€œI am hopeful that the Iranian Federation and the Iranian authorities were receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation,â€ Infantino said in a statement.
â€œI contacted them several times in the recent past and so has the FIFA administration. We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them.
â€œWe understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October.â€
Iranâ€™s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar has asked the judiciary to investigate the circumstances of Khodayariâ€™s death, although the departmentâ€™s spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, has said that Khodayari â€œhad clearly confessed her mistake during questioning, accepted it and expressed regret.â€
FIFA has sent a letter to the to the Iranian Football Federation in June, requesting a timeline that would allow women to be able to buy tickets for World Cup qualifiers. Iranâ€™s menâ€™s national team takes on Cambodia in a World Cup qualifying game on October 10.