Bengaluru, October 8: Team Melli will soon have more home support as Iranian women fans were allowed to enter a football stadium for the first time in nearly 40 years, after the game's global governing body (FIFA) threatened to suspend the Islamic republic over its controversial male-only policy.
Iran has barred female spectators from football and other stadiums for around 40 years, with clerics arguing they must be shielded from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.
FIFA last month ordered Iran to allow women access to stadiums without restrictions and in numbers determined by demand for tickets.
The directive came after a fan dubbed "Blue Girl" died after setting herself on fire in fear of being jailed for dressing up as a boy in order to attend a match.
Women were quick to get their hands on tickets to attend Iran's 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Cambodia at Tehran's Azadi Stadium on Thursday (October 9).
The first batch sold out in under an hour, and additional seats were also snapped up in short order, state media said.
🇮🇷 Iranian women will finally be allowed to enter a football stadium without restrictions for the first time in decades...— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) October 9, 2019
The first batch of tickets for Iran's 2022 World Cup qualifier vs Cambodia on Thursday sold out in under an hour! pic.twitter.com/eD7e2I5BUu
Those lucky enough to attend will be segregated from men and watched over by 150 female police officers, according to Iranian news agency Fars.
A sports ministry official said the 100,000-capacity stadium -- whose name means "Freedom" in Farsi -- was ready to host even more women.
Ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Iran had come under immense pressure from FIFA to allow women to attend this round of World Cup qualifiers.
(With inputs from Agencies)