Home / Sports / Pressure on FIFA to punish Iran over gender discrimination builds after 'Blue Girl' death

Pressure on FIFA to punish Iran over gender discrimination builds after 'Blue Girl' death

FIFA is feeling the warmth.

Again in March, Sahar Khodayari, a lifelong football fan, desperately sought after to look her favourite group, Esteghlal, take at the United Arab Emirates. However as a girl in Iran she may neither purchase tickets or input the stadium. So Khodayari dressed as a person and snuck her method into Tehran’s primary carrying venue, Azadi Stadium.

She did not prevail. She used to be temporarily apprehended by way of government and disappeared in the back of bars. Greater than six months after her alleged crime, the 29-year-old confronted trial final week and answered to fees of “open committing a sinful act by way of showing in public and not using a hijab.” However the thought of spending extra months or years in prison used to be it sounds as if an excessive amount of for the passionate sports activities devotee and, in an act of sheer anguish and protest, she set herself on fireplace outdoor the courthouse.

With greater than 90 % of her frame ravished by way of third-degree burns, Khodayari succumbed to her accidents and died on Monday. She has since been designated “Blue Woman” on social media in homage to the palette of her favourite group. However even in dying the Blue Woman is creating a mark.


The incident has ignited international outrage, now not simplest towards Tehran for its draconian prohibition, but in addition towards FIFA, the global governing frame for football, for failing to self-discipline Iran for its decades-long gender bias.

“It’s these days unclear to me why FIFA has now not been in a position to place this factor in vibrant lighting previous. Iranians of all stripes, from filmmakers to sports activities fanatics to human rights activists have all grappled with this factor sooner than,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior fellow on the Basis for Protection of Democracies (FDD) informed Fox Information. “The ban on girls in stadiums in Iran for football suits is only one vector of perception into how the regime in Iran treats the ones whom it fears. For so long as there was an Islamic Republic, there were constraints in girls in public existence.”

Outraged folks from all walks of existence – skilled football avid gamers to politicians to human rights advocates – once more united in a rising social media refrain this week to call for FIFA to return down laborious on Tehran’s coverage.

Maryam Shojaei, the sister of Iran’s nationwide soccer group captain Masoud Shojaei, is main the price as a member of the advocacy crew Open Stadiums.

“If humiliation, detention, and jail weren’t sufficient for #FIFA to do so now one (has) burnt herself to turn Iranian girls need to watch soccer too,” she wrote on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Esteghlal held a minute of silence forward in their coaching consultation in reminiscence in their past due fan. In addition they printed a observation of grief.

“The tragic dying of our cherished kid, Ms. Sahar Khodayari, has brought about a lot disappointment and feel sorry about for Esteghlal FC,” the membership mentioned. “We provide condolences to you and your family.”

In step with Taleblu, there are concrete steps that may be taken.

“Sanctions must maximum unquestionably, despite the fact that now not solely, be a method the global group can put force on Iran and shine a focus at the regime’s discriminatory practices at house. On this regard, global and multilateral sanctions must play a better position,” he stated. “Those global sanctions can also be anything else from human rights consequences to financial force from sports activities firms to political force from FIFA officers. In the long run, FIFA won’t have the most efficient file to stand-on. But it surely does elevate and bring authority. FIFA must stand company and now not backpedal.”

And Nationwide Iranian American Council Analysis Fellow, Assal Rad, concurred that FIFA can sanction Iran and affect its participation in tournaments, which might most probably result in a substantial reaction internally.

“Iranians aren’t simplest massive sports activities fanatics, however in addition they take nice satisfaction of their nationwide groups, particularly football. Scenes of Iranians celebrating within the streets after nationwide group victories are not unusual,” he stated. “On the similar time, Iranians have proven their discontent with the federal government’s discriminatory insurance policies, particularly towards girls. The blended power of those problems may galvanize demonstrations if Iran does now not conform to FIFA’s requirements.”

Additionally, Philippe Nassif, advocacy director for the Heart East and North Africa at Amnesty Global USA informed Fox Information: “FIFA and all firms, when confronted with a human rights factor corresponding to this, can all the time take a stand and ask for a transformation in coverage from the federal government in query.”

“They may be able to additionally decide as to whether or not they need to be related to a central authority’s insurance policies by way of now not taking part or creating a observation trade is wanted,” he persisted. “Iran has marginalized girls together with political, environmental and civil society activists for many years, and this conduct is simplest the most recent in a protracted development of human rights abuses the Iranian executive has engaged in.”

FIFA didn’t in an instant reply to a request for additional remark at the subject, however in statements issued previous this week it boldly refuted any tips that it has “been inactive within the struggle for those girls’s rights in Iran.”

The Iranian women's national soccer team lines up before its qualifying match against Jordan for the 2012 London Olympic Games in Amman, June 3, 2011. The Iranian team was banned from the match on Friday in the second round of qualifiers in protest against guidelines on its headscarves.

The Iranian girls’s nationwide football group traces up sooner than its qualifying fit towards Jordan for the 2012 London Olympic Video games in Amman, June three, 2011. The Iranian group used to be banned from the fit on Friday in the second one spherical of qualifiers in protest towards tips on its headscarves.

The global football frame has stated it’s “operating with” the Iranian Soccer Affiliation within the hopes to be sure that ladies can input the stadium when the International Cup qualifiers get started in October. Iran is about to sq. off towards Cambodia on Oct. 10.

Quickly after information of Khodayari’s dying become public, FIFA launched a observation of “deep feel sorry about” of the “tragedy.”

“FIFA conveys our condolences to the friends and family of Sahar and reiterate our calls at the Iranian government to verify the liberty and protection of any girls engaged on this official struggle to finish the stadium ban for girls in Iran,” the observation stated.

FIFA officers are anticipated to talk over with Iran throughout the subsequent two weeks to test on arrangements for the October video games, in step with Reuters, however it isn’t transparent to what diploma the problem surrounding feminine get right of entry to to tickets and stadiums can be addressed.

FIFA statutes mandate that gender discrimination is punishable by way of suspension or expulsion. However the ban towards girls is rarely new within the Islamic republic, and has long gone on unabated for 30 years.

The prohibition towards girls looking at football isn’t ingrained in Iran’s legislation however used to be offered quickly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which ushered in an authoritarian spiritual rule. The reigning Ayatollah Khamenei and Iranian fundamentalists imagine girls within the public stadiums as opposite to the rules of the Islamic revolution.


Then again, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s leader of group of workers, Mahmoud Vaezi, informed state tv on Wednesday that they “don’t have an issue with girls attending if the ambience in stadiums is handy.”

“However with such a lot foul language amongst fanatics and violence, this isn’t really helpful,” he persisted.

A couple of occasions within the contemporary previous, Tehran has allowed girls – most often avid gamers’ family or executive officers – to observe video games, most commonly to relieve force from FIFA. However some human rights’ our bodies view this as a Tehran ploy to govern the executive football federation without a goal of constructing significant adjustments.


As deeply-entrenched as football is within the social cloth of the rustic, many are keen to forgo it within the quest for the law towards girls to be scrapped.

“The scoop has made numerous information in Iran. The soccer avid gamers and the artists have made a giant level about it. Well-known Iranian soccer avid gamers are urging other folks to not cross to the stadium anymore till girls can freely input,” added one distinguished Iranian activist, Mehdi Rajabian, based totally within the province of Mazandaran. “Final evening, many lit candles on the Blue Woman’s self-immolation web page. Many don’t even need to practice the result of soccer, even at the tv.”

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