Two women in stadium crowd holding sign stating 'Let Iranian Women Enter Their Stadiums' (© Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)
Fans show their support for Iranian women at a match between Sweden and Iran near Stockholm in 2015. (© Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

A 29-year-old Iranian woman died on September 9 several days after setting herself on fire in front of a Tehran courthouse. She had just learned she might have to spend six months in jail for trying to watch a soccer (football) game.

Iranian security forces arrested Sahar Khodayari in March for “insulting officials” and “improper dress” as she attempted to enter Tehran’s Azadi Stadium disguised as a man.

She was nicknamed “the Blue Girl” on social media after the color of her favorite team.

“This senseless tragedy should be a turning point for Iran’s government, which has been ignoring calls by its people to lift its discriminatory ban on women in stadiums, and is now facing the human costs of that policy,” Hadi Ghaemi, director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, said in a statement.

Only in Iran

Iran is the only country in the world that prohibits women from watching men’s sporting events at public stadiums, one of many rights for women that the Iranian Islamic Revolution wiped out.

That ban violates the statutes of FIFA, the sport’s international governing body. FIFA says discrimination of any kind against a group of people is “strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”

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Reuters reported that FIFA president Gianni Infantino has pressured Iranian authorities to allow women to attend the men’s World Cup qualifiers in Iran later this year. To date, Iran has not taken steps to comply with FIFA’s rules.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps arrested and imprisoned four other women on August 17 for trying to enter Azadi Stadium,  the Center for Human Rights in Iran said. The women were released on bail two days later.

Now Iranian soccer fans and players, including legendary former player Ali Karimi, are calling for a nationwide boycott of all sports stadiums until the regime ends its discriminatory policy, reports Radio Farda.

A reformist female member of Iran’s parliament, Parvaneh Salahshouri, said in a September 10 tweet that because Iran deprives women of their basic human rights, “all of us are responsible for detaining and burning girls like this in the country.”