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Iranian women barred from World Cup qualifier in Iran

Women  fans hoping to attend a football match for the first time in two years will have to wait . Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier is to be played behind closed doors.

The match at Tehran’s Azadi stadium against South Korea is to be played “without the presence of spectators”, the Iranian football federation announced Sunday, in a statement carried by the state news agency IRNA.

No reason was given for the decision, which came just days after the state television-linked Young Journalists Club had said Iranian women would be allowed into the stadium for the South Korea match.

A year-long ban had previously been in force on all fans entering stadiums in Iran because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The last time women were able to watch a game at the 80,000-seat Azadi stadium was in October 2019, when Iran thrashed Cambodia 14-0.

Women were refused access to stadia after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, officially to protect them from inappropriate male behaviour.

World football’s governing body FIFA has exerted pressure on Iran to allow women into international matches.

But Iran has only ever permitted limited attendance, capping it at 1,000 female supporters in 2018, although 3,500 women were able to watch the Cambodia game.

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