Call on FIFA to Suspend the Iranian Soccer Federation

Call on FIFA to Suspend the Iranian Soccer Federation

Date: September 12, 2019

No:    2125-19

Dear Mr. Infantino:

Re: Call on FIFA to Suspend the Iranian Soccer Federation

We bring to your attention, and for your consideration, the concerns of Iranian Women who are faced with gender apartheid by the kleptocratic and theocratic regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Iran is the only country in the world that bans women from sports stadiums.

In March of this year, a female Iranian soccer fan named Sahar Khodayari, 29, was arrested when she tried to enter a football/soccer stadium disguised as a man.  She set herself on fire in front of a court in Tehran last week after she found out she could face a two-year sentence for attempting to enter the Azadi Stadium to watch her favorite team play.  Sahar became known on social media as the #BlueGirl, bringing attention to the ban.

Iranian women have been banned from going to stadiums to watch games when men’s teams are playing since 1981, shortly after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. This ban represents a fundamental violation of FIFA’s core principles. Article 4 of General Provisions of FIFA’s Statutes titled “Non-discrimination, gender equality and stance against racism” states that discrimination of any kind “is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”

Iran has continually refused to end the ban despite FIFA’s previous statements against the exclusion. Also, the Islamic laws prevent Iranian women from traveling alone or from having equal rights or status in a court of law. Every year several women get arrested or expelled from stadiums when security forces identify them as women disguised as men.

All institutions such as FIFA have for too long closed their eyes on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s discriminatory behaviors. After the tragedy of the #BlueGirl, many Iranians, including coach Ali Karimi and former captain of the national team, are calling for a boycott of soccer games until the ban on women attending games is lifted.

It is with a great sense of urgency that we call upon the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) to support the women of Iran fight against gender apartheid through the firm and strong action of suspending the Iranian Soccer/Sport Federation.

We sincerely thank you for your anticipated consideration of, and affirmative action regarding, this urgent humanitarian matter.

Very truly yours,

Nazila Golestan

Special Envoy for Human Rights

Iran National Council for Free Elections

Sahar Khodayari, #BlueGirl

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