Female football fan in Iran dies after self-immolation protest

09 Sep 2019

By: Sport Industry Group

A female football fan in Iran, who was facing six months in prison for entering a stadium, has died a week after setting herself on fire outside a courtroom in protest.

Sahar Khodayari, a fan of Tehran club Esteghlal, was stopped by police while entering a football ground in March. She was imprisoned for three days before being released, pending trial.

The death of the 30-year-old has sparked international outcry, which has centred around the treatment of female fans in Iran where women are forbidden from entering stadiums to watch football matches. 

That ban contravenes FIFA’s statues, Article 4 of which says, “discrimination of any kind… is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”

In June, Gianni Infantino wrote to the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) seeking assurances that women would be allowed into the stadiums for games, notably Iran’s 2022 World Cup qualifying fixtures, the first of which takes place against Cambodia in October. A deadline was set for 31st August for the FFIRI to comply with FIFA statutes. 

However, it was reported in August that Iran would allow women into Tehran’s Azadi Stadium for the fixture against Cambodia, but the same rights don’t appear to have been extended to non-FIFA competitions.

Khodayari had become known as the Blue Girl as Esteghlal play in blue, while images of her attending a game in the stadium have been widely shared on Twitter along tributes from around the world.