NGOs call for Iran's exclusion from the 2022 World Cup

NGOs call for Iran’s exclusion from the 2022 World Cup

After Iran refused to allow women to attend the match against Lebanon, NGOs asked Fifa not to allow the Iranian team to participate in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Opponents and NGOs have asked Fifa to sanction Iran, or even ban it from participating in the next World Cup in Qatar, after the new stadium bans against women last Tuesday. Iran has once again denied women entry to a soccer stadium to watch Iran’s 2-1 win against Lebanon in 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Iranian media reported on Wednesday .

“About 2,000 Iranian women, who had bought tickets for the Iran-Lebanon match, were present in the perimeter of the Imam Reza stadium (in Mashhad, North-East, editor’s note), but could not enter the stadium”, said the ISNA news agency. Iranian opponents in exile accused the authorities of having dispersed the protesting women by using tear gas canisters. The group United for Navid, created in tribute to the wrestler Navid Afkari, 27, hanged in September 2020 despite an international outcry, said that Iran, qualified for the 2022 World Cup since the end of January, should be deprived of international football matches until he changes his position.

“Women are beaten and threatened”

“We formally request Fifa to immediately suspend Iran and prohibit its participation in the 2022 World Cup as long as the Iranian Football Federation violates the Olympic charter and the rules of Fifa”, according to a letter sent to the secretary general of the world football body, Mattias Grafström.

The letter, which AFP obtained on Friday, claims that Iran had made a commitment to FIFA to end its policy of “apartheid” by allowing women to attend matches. “Iran has not only gone back on its word (…) but in addition, women are beaten and threatened”, according to the letter. The NGO Human Rights Watch for its part asked Fifa that Iran quickly put an end to its “discriminatory” practice.

“Given the repeated violations committed by the Iranian authorities, FIFA must follow its own recommendations on non-discrimination and should consider penalties against Iran,” said Tara Sepehri Far, Iran researcher at HRW. The NGO says that under FIFA rules, discrimination based on gender is “strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion”.

“Very late”

“It is high time for Fifa to demonstrate its willingness to apply” its measures, according to Ms. Sepehri Far. Critics have come from within Iran itself, including that of team captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh. Mashhad Governor Mohsen Davari issued an apology and President Ebrahim Raissi ordered the Interior Ministry to investigate the incident.

Iranian women were allowed to attend a national team football match in January for the first time in nearly three years during the World Cup qualifiers between Iran and Iraq. For 40 years, the Islamic republic has generally prohibited female spectators from attending football matches.

The clerics, who play a major role in decision-making, argue that women should be protected from the masculine atmosphere and from the sight of men in sportswear, and whose bodies are therefore partially visible. Fifa had ordered Iran in September 2019 to allow women’s access to stadiums without restriction after a fan died of setting herself on fire for fear of being imprisoned for trying to attend. to a game. In 2018, she was arrested when she tried to enter a stadium dressed as a boy.

Wrestler Navid Afkari, who had won national competitions, had been executed for murder committed during protests two years earlier. His confession had been extracted from him under torture, he had denounced.

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