FIFA wants tension between Iran, Saudi Arabia not to affect football

FIFA wants tension between Iran, Saudi Arabia not to affect football

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on Friday he had told by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that there are plans to allow women to attend football matches in the country soon.

The Islamic Republic has long barred women from attending male soccer matches, based at least partly on the theory that women should not hear male fans swear and curse.

The Iranian group OpenStadiums, which is campaigning for the right of women to attend sports fixtures in the Islamic Republic, said that some women were arrested near Azadi stadium on Thursday during the Esteghlal-Persepolis match.

Infatinio participated at a joint news conference with Iranian sport minister Masoud Soltanifar, saying the diplomatic rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran should not be allowed to get in the way of football.

Later on, the head of Federation Internationale de Football Association met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Meanwhile, BBC reporter Vicki Sparks tweeted her support for the detained women: "As a woman who's loved going to football matches ever since I was a little girl, this breaks my heart".

"Iran is a safe country and is ready to host regional and global sports and groups", Rouhani underlined, pointing out that regional federations should seek to bring nations closer together and increase friendships.

While Infantino did use the speech to tell Iran "much more can be done", that was in reference to the awarding of television rights.

Infantino also held a meeting with Rouhani later on Thursday.

Van Basten previously has called for the ban on Iranian women at football stadiums to be lifted. "Hence, my appeal to the Iranian authorities; open the nation's football stadiums to women".

"We will focus our efforts on entertaining the football masses, whether they were in Iran, Saudi Arabia or wherever in the world", he added.

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.

Responding to the Saudi mission's attack, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation later prohibited all Saudi clubs from playing against Iranian teams in Iran.

Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, a prominent Iranian religious leader, has been one of the strongest supporters of banning women from sporting venues.

Back in September 2017, women protested outside Azadi Stadium because they were not allowed in to see Iran's World Cup qualifier against Syria, despite having pre-ordered tickets.

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