`Freedom at last’: In a first, Iranian women allowed to watch football match in a stadium; video goes viral

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Iranian women fans of Esteghlal football club cheer during a match between Esteghlal and Mes Kerman at the Azadi stadium in the capital Tehran, on August 25, 2022. - Iranian women were allowed today to attend a national football championship match for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, in a "historic" move, local media reported. (Photo by Hossein Zohrevand / TASNIM NEWS / AFP) (Photo by HOSSEIN ZOHREVAND/TASNIM NEWS/AFP via Getty Images)

Tehran: For the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian authorities allowed women to attend a local professional football match, Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported.

Nearly 500 women were granted access to Tehran’s Azadi stadium to watch a league match between Tehran-based Esteghlal FC and visiting team Sanat Mes Kerman FC.

Videos posted on social media shows, women waving blue team flags of Esteghlal and cheering from their seats, in a special area designated for women at the 100,000-seat stadium.

Tehran has generally prohibited women from attending football matches after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. However, they can watch other sports like volleyball.

In 2019 and for the first time in decades, in the AFC Champions League final, hundreds of Iranian women were allowed to watch Persepolis play Japan’s Kashima Antlers in Tehran.

For the second time in January 2022, more than 2,000 female spectators at the Azadi Stadium watched Iran’s national football team defeat Iraq, qualifying for Iran’s third World Cup in a row.

However, in March, Iranian authorities prohibited women from attending the country’s last 2022 World Cup qualifying match between Iran and Lebanon in the holy city of Mashhad.

Pressure on Iran to act had increased since the death in 2018, an Iranian woman, Sahar Khodayari, who was denied entry to the football stadium, passed away after setting herself on fire.

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