New single calls for Iranian women’s right to attend football matches
Iran national football team. Photo: Hamed Malekpour/Wikimedia Commons
25.04.2018By Luca Arfini
On the 24th April 2018, the Iranian sisters Melody & Safoura Safavi, who formed the band “Abjeez” in 2005, created a new single called “Stadium” with the aim of raising men’s interest on the right of Iranian women to enter sports stadiums.
“Since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, women have been banned from entering soccer stadiums in Iran. This song is about their right to participate as fans in stadiums alongside their male counterparts,” stated Melody in an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
The ban has lasted for 38 years and previously applied to all sports. Nevertheless, in 2015 the government decided to permit a small number of family members of national team players to attend some sports matches such as the ones of volleyball.
Even though there are no official laws that prohibit Iranian women from attending sports matches, this practice became the norm after 1979, when the new government decided to follow the Shia religious conservative idea that females should not mix with male fans.
“Excluding women from stadiums is part of excluding women from society,” said Mina, an Iranian activist, to Human Rights Watch.
On 1 March 2018, 35 women were arrested after they tried to enter in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, where a soccer match between two popular teams was held. The FIFA President Gianni Infantino was also present in the stadium to watch the game.
“I was promised that women in Iran will have access to football stadiums soon. The President Hassan Rouhani told me that in countries such as (Iran), these things take a bit of time,” he said the day after, during an event at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
According to the article 4 of the FIFA Statutes, “discrimination of any kind is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion”. Therefore, the International Trade Union Confederation, Building and Wood Workers’ International, FansEurope, Human Rights Watch and CHRI are claiming the respect of this right through an online petition against Iran’s stadium ban on the eve of the World Cup in Russia.
“All football fans, whatever their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation should be allowed to enjoy and support their favourite teams. International sports organizations like FIFA have an obligation to guarantee fair games and the opportunity to strengthen human rights in and through the world of sport,” it is written in the petition’s text.
The message is clear and summarizes well the sense of the lyrics of the song “Stadium”: That it is time for action and time to break the barriers of inequalities between men and women present in the Iranian society.
The empty seat by your side is my place.
To have me by your side is your right. It’s my right!
Consider me a part of you. I am your equal. _”Stadium”