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FIFA boss says Saudi-Iran spat should keep out of football

FIFA boss says Saudi-Iran spat should keep out of football

Iranian authorities on Thursday detained two women for trying to get into a major football game in Tehran that was attended by the president of the global football association, FIFA, the BBC reported.

Iran has barred women from attending sporting events, especially soccer matches, ever since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Another user said it was a "basic right" for women to enter stadiums with men, and said this match was "the best chance to break the 35-year-old taboo".

Last September, the Iranian Football Federation's official website provided a ticketing option for female fans ahead of the World Cup qualifying match between Iran and Syria, but later cancelled the sale, citing an unknown technical glitch that allowed women to purchase the tickets.

They tried to go to a game between Tehran teams Esteqlal and Persepolis.

The FIFA President invited the Iranian Sports Minister and the President, Hassan Rouhani, to attend the opening ceremony of the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

"I heard there were some incidents where some women were detained because they wanted to attend a football match and there was some criticism, obviously and rightly", he said.

On Wednesday, one day before the scheduled game, Iranian women's rights activist Masih Alinejad called on her female colleagues to gather outside the stadium in an attempt to bring Infantino's attention to the long-running controversy.

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FIFA also said Infantino told Iranian President Rouhani that it is important for "all football fans irrespective of gender" to be allowed to cheer and support their favorite teams inside stadiums, especially in a country like Iran, where it said the "whole population is so passionate about football".

There was no immediate Iranian comment on Infantino's remarks.

Appearing at a joint news conference with Iranian sports minister Massoud Soltanifar earlier Thursday, Infantino spoke about keeping football free of politics.

"Iran is a safe country and is ready to host regional and worldwide sports and groups", said Rouhani, pointing out that regional federations should seek to bring nations closer together and increase friendships. "Hence, my appeal to the Iranian authorities; open the nation's football stadiums to women".

"I hope that Iranian men, as they have done before, will stand together with women to help them to get their rights back", she said.

Women have not been allowed into sporting arenas in Iran since 1982 which is a violation of FIFA's statutes.

In phone calls from Iran to VOA Persian's Straight Talk show on Thursday, one man said that if women went to football stadiums, they would find their dignity violated by men shouting foul language and acting aggressively.