Tehran, November 9: Ahead of the AFC Champions League second-leg final at the Azadi Stadium, FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura said the game's global governing body would work with Iran to end the long-running ban on women attending matches.
Iranian women and girls have not been allowed to attend any men's sporting events in the country for much of the 39 years since the Islamic revolution, and have not been granted access to matches involving top clubs since 1981.
"Held v. constructive talks this morning with advocates for #NoBan4Women. Their courage & passion for ⚽️ is remarkable. We will keep engaging with them, as well as public & ⚽️authorities in 🇮🇷 to work towards stadium access for all. @openstadiums," Fatma tweeted after her discussions with a group, who are fighting against the ban on women in stadiums.
Held v. constructive talks this morning with advocates for #NoBan4Women. Their courage & passion for ⚽️ is remarkable. We will keep engaging with them, as well as public & ⚽️authorities in 🇮🇷 to work towards stadium access for all. @openstadiums pic.twitter.com/o6tYuGFA8v— Fatma Samoura (@fatma_samoura) November 8, 2018
However, Fatma, who hails from Senegal and is the first woman to hold the top FIFA post, offered no insight as to when a breakthrough could be expected.
A crowd of more than 80,000 is expected at the Azadi Stadium as Persepolis, Iran's best-supported club, seek to overturn a 0-2 first leg deficit against Japan's Kashima Antlers and claim their first continental crown.
Female fans from other countries have previously been permitted to attend games at the Azadi Stadium, including Syrian women for a World Cup qualifier in September last year.
The restrictions on local women were also relaxed for an international friendly against Bolivia last month, only to be reinstated under pressure from hardliners within the government.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has also held talks with Iranian soccer authorities in an attempt to find a solution to the long-running issue.
"FIFA added human rights to their statutes and the AFC did the same, so we're in a new world now where human rights have been adopted as part of the statutory framework within which we work and that must make a difference when decisions like these are made," Moya Dodd, chair of the AFC's women's football committee, told Reuters.
"This is a massive game. It's a showcase match and for that to also be a landmark date when women would be able to see the game live in the stadium would be a terrific thing for Asian football to demonstrate progress, and for women who have waited so many decades to gain access to club matches there."
(With inputs from Agencies).