The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee has called on FIFA, the world football authority, to hold the Iranian Football Federation responsible for barring women from a match Tuesday.
The committee’s twitter account carried the message Thursday, deploring “Iran’s attack on women peacefully protesting its discriminatory stadium ban...” Security forces denied women entry into a stadium in Mashhad, north-east Iran, to watch a FIFA World Cup qualifier between Iran and Lebanon, reportedly using pepper spray to disperse them.
Although Iran won the game 2-0, thereby qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar, some Iranians are urging FIFA to bar the country from the tournament, with #Fifabaniri (FIFA ban Islamic Republic of Iran) and other hashtags rising to the top of most-used hashtags in Persian-language Twitter.
In a letter to FIFA's deputy secretary general, Mattias Grafstrom, of the United for Navid group set up after the execution of wrestler Navid Afkari in September 2020, backed the call, alleging Iran was practicing "gender apartheid" and continuing “to violate the Olympic Charter and FIFA regulations."
A campaign inside Iran sees some former and current members of Iran's national team pledging not to enter stadiums as long as women are not allowed. “I hope that from now on during home matches, our dear women can also spectate so we can make them happy as well,” Alireza Jahanbakhsh, an Iranian international who plays club football in the Netherlands, told state television.