Women attend soccer match in Iran for first time in decades

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After pressure from FIFA, 4,000 female fans of the national team are allowed into stadium for game against Cambodia.

The 2022 World Cup qualifier between Team Melli and Cambodia at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium marks a decades-long push by Iranian women to be able to watch matches, something hard-liners in Iran’s Shiite theocracy to this day still oppose.

Iran allocated only 4,000 tickets for women in a stadium that seats about 80,000 people, keeping them separated from men and under the protection of female police officers.

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That’s even though face-painted Iranian women have cheered for their team abroad for years despite the 1981 ban that followed the country’s Islamic Revolution.

Zahra Pashaei, a 29-year-old nurse who has only known soccer games from television said: “We are so happy that finally we got the chance to go to the stadium. It’s an extraordinary feeling.”

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 “At least for me, 22 or 23 years of longing and regret lies behind this.”

Iran is the world’s last nation to bar women from soccer matches. Saudi Arabia recently began allowing women into soccer matches in the kingdom.

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