Report on Iranian activist’s protest at the World Cup on women’s access to stadiums. First published in The Iranian on 29 June 2018:
While it may not have been an all out win for Iran this World Cup, there were nonetheless still some small victories.
Iran’s team did not finish last in its group. It stopped a goal from legendary Portugal scorer and tour de force Cristiano Ronaldo. And women were allowed for the first time in 38 years to sit in a football stadium, in Tehran, and watch the beautiful game from the bleachers. Something that has only been possible before while disguised as men.
The event which was captured in photos and a social media frenzy of selfies was hailed as momentous and an indication of progress. The only hope is that it moves from a ‘moment’ to a permanent reality. No small feat as activists have realized, having advocated to reverse a ban, which is not a law but rather a policy, for the last four years.
Iranian groups like My Fundamental Right and OpenStadiums have been raising awareness inside Iran and now My Fundamental Right’s Maryam Qashqaei Shojaei who earlier formed a petition demanding FIFA use its power to call for an end to Iran’s stadium ban for women, will now present it to its President Gianni Infantino during the World Cup, having raised more than the 100,000 signatures she was initially seeking.