TEHRAN: Some 100 Iranian women were allowed to watch their country take on Bolivia in a friendly football match at the national stadium on Tuesday, an AFP journalist said, an extremely rare step in the Islamic republic.
Women have been barred from attending matches since the 1979 Islamic revolution, with authorities saying they must be protected from the masculine atmosphere.
But on Tuesday the female fans were permitted to cheer on their team with horns and national flags from a separate stand inside the stadium.
The show of support came after Tehran's authorities ruled that a certain number of women could attend the international friendly against Bolivia in Azadi stadium, Varzesh3 sports site reported ahead of the game.
“The women allowed to enter Azadi Stadium tonight include the national football team's family members, the national women's football and futsal teams, the football federation's female employees and of course a number of female football fans,” the site said.
The ban on women in stadiums has been frequently criticised from across the political spectrum.
Women were permitted to enter the 100,000-capacity Azadi (meaning “freedom”) stadium during the World Cup for a live screening of Iran's match against Portugal on June 25.
A number of female members of parliament were invited to attend Iran's World Cup qualifier against Syria in September 2017, and at least one confirmed their attendance.
The Iran-Bolivia match is Iran's second exhibition game before it is off to the United Arab Emirates for the AFC Asian Cup in Jan. — AFP