TEMPO.CO, Zurich - FIFA president Gianni Infantino has toldIran it is time to allow women into football stadiums and the global soccer body expects "positive developments", starting with their next home match in October.
While foreign women have been allowed limited access to matches,Iranian women have been banned from stadiums when men’s teams have been playing, since just after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Infantino said in aFIFA statement he was hopeful that theIranian football federation and government authorities had been receptive to "our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation."
He added, "Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums inIran. Now is the moment to change things andFIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the nextIran home match in October."
Iran, who have qualified for five World Cup finals, including each of the last two, host Cambodia on Oct. 10 in their first home game of the 2022 qualifying competition.
This month, a female fan died after setting herself on fire to protest against her arrest for attending a match.
Sahar Khodayari, dubbed "Blue Girl" for the colours of her favourite team Esteghlal, died in hospital after her self-immolation outside a court where she feared being jailed for six months, having attended the match in disguise as a man.
Khodayari's death has caused widespread outrage inIran and internationally, prompting calls on social media forIran’s football federation to be suspended or banned byFIFA.
Critics sayFIFA's own statutes hold discrimination on grounds of gender punishable by suspension or expulsion.
There were signs the situation regarding female fans inIran was changing when a group of women was permitted to attend the second leg of the Asian Champions League final in Tehran last November, a match where Infantino was present.
Female fans, however, have been denied access to matches since. AtIran’s friendly against Syria in June, women were locked out of the Azadi Stadium and detained by security forces.
Infantino said aFIFA delegation was now inIran. "I am looking forward to hearing good news from them," he said.