For the first time in almost 40 years, Iran let women enter its Azadi soccer stadium on Tuesday.
According to Iranian-state run media, a group of women gained legal access into the soccer stadium to watch the national men’s team, better known as Team Melli, compete against Bolivia. About 100 women, mostly members of the Iranian federation and members of the women’s national team, were allowed in total.
The women sat in a sectioned-off area of the stadium and did not mingle with men, but the move is an historic one since females have largely been sectioned off from public life in Iran since the revolution in 1979. (RELATED: Is It An Overreaction To Divorce Your Wife Of 14 Years Because She ‘Joked’ About Messi’s Soccer Skills?)
به امید روزی که نصف ازادی برا شما بشه pic.twitter.com/pzaEE4UvPU
— Hossein Mahini (@HosseinMahini) October 16, 2018
“Going to these soccer matches — supporting your team, being mainstream at an international soccer tournament — it’s a way to say we’re normal,” Alex Vatanka, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute explained to the Washington Post.
Iranian women attended the international friendly match between Iran and Bolivia at the Azadi Stadium for the first time in nearly 40 years! pic.twitter.com/OukcJ9ccKi
— AFC (@theafcdotcom) October 17, 2018
But not everybody’s happy about the loosened ban.
“I object to the presence of women in Azadi Stadium yesterday. We are a Muslim state. We are Muslims,” Iran general prosecutor general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said, per Agence France-Presse. “We will deal with any official who wants to allow women inside stadiums under any pretext. When a woman goes to a stadium and is faced with half-naked men in sports clothes and sees them it will lead to sin.”
Still, allowing women into a previously sanctioned off area is historic in and of itself, differentiating opinions aside.