As It Happens

Women allowed into Iranian stadium to watch soccer for the first time since 1979

On Wednesday night, Iranian women were back in Tehran's Azadi stadium for the first time in almost 40 years for a broadcast of Iran's World Cup game against Spain.

Female fans were permitted to attend Wednesday night's screening of Iran's World Cup match against Spain

Tara Sepehri Far (Submitted by Tara Sepehri Far)

When Tara Sepehri Far was a child, she dreamed of watching a soccer game at the Azadi stadium in Tehran.

The only way she could go, though, was if she dressed like a boy — this was the late 90's, and no women had been allowed inside to watch the sport since 1979.

She never made it inside. Her father, fearing that she wouldn't be safe, wouldn't let her try to sneak in.

On Wednesday night, Iranian women were back in the stadium for the first time in almost 40 years for a broadcast of Iran's World Cup game against Spain.

Sepheri Far, now a human rights researcher and still a huge fan of Iran's soccer team, told As It Happens host Carol Off it's a big step in the right direction.

"Just look at the people who went to the stadium yesterday… look at how happy they were, and the fact that nothing went wrong," she said.

"I very much hope that this would be the beginning of lifting the ban."

As It Happens had previously spoken to Iranian women who were prevented from entering the stadium to watch a Iran play a match against Syria in 2017 — even though female fans from Syria were allowed to go in. 

One of them said that she had resorted to dressing as a man in order to go watch a national game in the past. 

Though Sepehri Far was at home in Washington D.C. when the match was held, she had her own chance to show love for her team last week, when she travelled to Russia to take in Iran's match with Morocco.

"It was an amazing feeling to be among thousands of Iranians from very diverse backgrounds," she said.

"I saw many different people, people who seemed more religious, people who came with family and friends, women who were wearing a headscarf, women who were not wearing a headscarf, and they were all united with support for the national team."

Iran has played twice so far this World Cup, defeating Morocco last Friday and losing to Spain this past week. The team is scheduled to play again against Portugal on Monday, June 25.


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