Opponents and NGOs have asked the International Football Federation (FIFA) to sanction Iran, or even ban it from participating in the next World Cup in Qatar, after the new stadium bans against women on Tuesday. Iran has again refused women entry to a football stadium to attend the match won by the Iranian selection against Lebanon (2-0), as part of the qualifications for the 2022 World Cup.
“About 2,000 Iranian women, who had bought tickets for the Iran-Lebanon match, were present in the perimeter of the Imam Reza stadium [à Mashhad dans le Nord-Est]but were unable to enter the stadium,” the ISNA news agency reported.
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.
Iran accused of pursuing a policy of “apartheid”
“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 FIFA rules,” according to a letter sent to the secretary. general of the world football body, Mattias Grafström.
This letter states that Iran had made a commitment to FIFA to put an end to its policy of “apartheid” by allowing women to attend matches. “Iran has not only gone back on its word,” the letter continues. “But in addition, women are beaten and threatened,” according to the letter.
The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) 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 according to FIFA rules, discrimination based on gender is “strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion”. “It is high time for FIFA to demonstrate its willingness to apply” its measures, according to Tara Sepehri Far.
The governor’s apology
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 forty years, the Islamic Republic has generally prohibited female spectators from attending football matches.