Rowhani wants ban on female fans in football stadiums lifted

Iranian Women Stadium - President Hassan Rowhani of Iran has called for a decades-long stadium ban for women to be lifted, according to statement issued by the president’s office.

“There should be no difference between men and women in Islam and for that reason women should also be allowed to take part in sports events,” Rowhani said at a meeting with Iranian athletes at his office, according to the statement.

Women have been banned from stadiums in Iran for 39 years.

The ban was imposed by the religious leadership after the 1979 revolution.

Iran’s influential clergy believes women have no place in football stadiums where men are over-excited and vulgar slogans are shouted.

Rowhani rejected these claims, saying women should not be punished for men being vulgar at sporting events.

Iran’s Vice President Ebtekar Masoumeh has suggested that special sections for women or for families in Iran’s football arenas could help end the stadium ban.

The clergy has rejected these suggestions.

Protests against the ban have grown in recent months, most noticeably around a World Cup qualifier in September against Syria when Syrian women were allowed to attend the game in Tehran but Iranian women not – a move Iran’s parliament named “regrettable and annoying discrimination.”

Women were allowed to attend a football match in Saudi Arabia for the first time on Jan, 17, in a series of social reforms ordered by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who wields extraordinary power.

Female football fans wearing scarves and waving flags took their seats at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah for Al-Ahli’s match against Al-Batin in the Saudi Pro League.

However, the women had to enter through designated turnstiles for women and families.

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