Within just a few minutes, 3,500 tickets were sold on Friday for the 2022 World Cup qualifying match, slated for Thursday, between Iran and Cambodia. Why did they sell out so quickly? These tickets were specifically for women.
According to Iranian state news agency IRNA, the tickets are designated for a separate women's section and have been made available following an ongoing campaign to allow women to attend soccer games in Iranian stadiums.
Women in Iran fought for a number of years for the right to attend soccer games. In the past few months, Iranian women called on FIFA to disqualify the Iranian national team from the World Cup with the intention of putting pressure on officials in Iran.
The decision to allow women to attend comes, according to reports, following a direct demand from FIFA. To assure that Iran stands up to its commitment, FIFA will be sending female representatives to the Azadi stadium in Tehran to monitor what happens on game day.
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FIFA officials told Reuters that they were informed of 4,600 tickets for women as a start, and they expect to see an additional allotment in response to the high demand. In total, Azadi stadium holds 78,000 seats.
During a friendly match between Syria and Iran in June, women attempted to enter the stadium and were detained by security forces over several hours. Some of the women claimed they had been hit, and others arrested. In September, a female Iranian soccer fan lit herself on fire and died in protest over not being allowed into the stadium.