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Last Updated : Sep 11, 2019 03:44 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Iranian woman, who disguised as a man to enter stadium, dies after setting herself on fire

The woman who came to be known as "Blue Girl" in reference to the colours of her favourite team, Esteghlal FC, was to undergo trial for attempting to enter a football stadium.

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An Iranian female football fan, who set herself on fire on September 2, right outside a Tehran court has died from her wounds. The woman who came to be known as "Blue Girl" in reference to the colours of her favourite team, Esteghlal FC, was to undergo trial for attempting to enter a football stadium disguised as a man.

Sahar (not her real name) was arrested in March when she tried to enter a football stadium and was jailed for three days before being released on bail. She had to wait six months for her court case to come for hearing, but when she appeared at court she was informed that the hearing was postponed as the judge was absent due to a family emergency.

Reports suggest that Sahar later returned to court to pick up her mobile phone and overheard a conversation where her conviction of about six months to two years in prison was being discussed. Following this, she set herself on fire in front of the court and was rushed to hospital where doctors said she suffered 90 per cent burns.

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Since 1981, women in Iran haven't been allowed to attend football matches in stadiums. In June 2019, FIFA President Gianni Infantino sent a letter to the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran announcing that the country had until July 15, when the 2022 World Cup qualifiers started to implement FIFA's new disciplinary codes and provide for the presence of women in all Iranian sports stadiums.

The ultimatum from FIFA prompted Iranian football authorities to announce that female fans will be allowed to enter the Azadi Stadium in Tehran on October 10 to attend the national team's World Cup qualifier against Cambodia. However, the authorities haven't yet lifted the ban on domestic matches where it is still enforced.

Sahar's death prompted FIFA to issue a statement saying, "We are aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it. Fifa convey our condolences to the family and friends of Sahar and reiterate our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran."

After Sahar was hospitalised, Voria Ghafouri, the captain of Esteghlal FC, and Masoud Shojaei, the captain of Iran's national football team, were among the first to take to social media to express their outrage about the situation. Shojaei said on Instagram that the ban is "rooted in outdated and cringe-worthy thoughts that will not be understood by future generations".

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First Published on Sep 11, 2019 03:44 pm
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