Iran’s Islamic government has declared it “forbidden” for women to attend the U.S. volleyball team’s match against team Iran scheduled for Friday at the Azadi Sports complex in Tehran.
“The entry of women at volleyball matches is forbidden,” NBC News reported from the ISNA news network on Friday.
This issue has spread like wildfire through international media when Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British-Iranian woman, was arrested in Tehran last year during a women’s protest for entry into the Italy versus Iran volleyball match.
Ghavami was charged with “spreading anti-regime propaganda,” NBC reported, and was sentenced to five months in jail.
The International Volleyball Federation responded by threatening to revoke Iran’s privilege of hosting international tournaments if it did not allow women to attend.
In June, Iranian Vice President for women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi announced that some women would be permitted to attend volleyball matches. However Molaverdi’s announcement, for the most part, pertained to just the female players’ family members.
Molaverdi has affirmed that women’s admittance at sporting events would indeed benefit the industry as a whole. In addition to moving further toward social equality, Molaverdi has said women’s presence in the stadium may also result in less swearing from the fans.
On Tuesday, a basij militia responded Iran’s announcement by holding a “prayer protest” at the sports ministry, NBC reported. But Iranian conservative groups are relentless.
If women show up to watch the match at Azadi Stadium on Friday, Iranian conservatives have threatened, “[We’ll] spill blood.”