A first in Iran. Some 3,500 fans are expected to attend Tehran's Thursday (October 10th) World Cup-2022 qualifier against Cambodia after they have been able to buy their ticket for the match. An event that had not been seen in 40 years.

This opening comes after the tragic death in September of a young woman, Sahar Khodayari, who burned herself after believing, according to the local press, that she was going to be sentenced to prison for trying to to enter a stadium.

Tehran's pressure

FIFA then increased its pressure on Iran, threatening the country with sanctions if it did not allow women to attend the men's football matches.

Soon after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian women were denied access to the stadiums, ostensibly to protect them from male rudeness.

Fifa has been pushing for Iran to open its stadiums for women for years, but Tehran has so far only rarely allowed a limited number of women (up to a thousand female supporters). November 2018) to attend a few meetings.

>> Read: Indignation after the suicide of an Iranian girl, continued for attending a match

Places sold like hotcakes

The death of Sahar Khodayari sparked a stir on social networks, where calls from celebrities, footballers or activists were launched at FIFA to ban Iran from international competitions.

After a visit by a delegation of the International Federation to Tehran in September, the authorities resolved to allow ticket sales to women for the Iran-Cambodia match.

The places for the Azadi stadium have sold like hotcakes and "the presence of 3,500 Iranian supporters [...] is assured," according to the official Irna news agency.

Finding this figure insufficient, a campaign on Twitter calls for more seats for women with this hashtag: #WakeUpFifa ("Fifa wake up").

"Cynical advertising hit"

Amnesty International on Wednesday called a "cynical publicity stunt" the Iranian decision to allow a "symbolic number of women" to enter the stadium on Thursday and called on Tehran to "lift all impediments to women's access to football matches".

Sports journalist Raha Pourbakhsh proudly shows her e-ticket to her mobile phone. "I still can not believe it will happen ... After all these years [...] watching everything on TV, I will now be able to live this in person," she says.

But unlike the theater or cinema, where women and men can sit side by side, supporters must fill stands reserved for them, and monitored, according to the agency Fars, by some 150 female police.

"I would like women to be free, like men, to go to the stadium and [men and women] can sit side by side without any restriction," says AFP Hasti, a resident from Tehran.

"They will regret it"

For Nader Fathi, who runs a ready-to-wear boutique, the presence of women in the stadiums could improve the atmosphere. But "they will regret it", he judges, if they find themselves exposed to "really gross insults" or "bad behavior".

In 2001, about twenty Irish women were the first women to attend a men's football match (Iran-Ireland) in the country since the post-revolutionary ban.

The Iranians, they had to wait until 2005: only a few dozen were then able to attend a meeting Iran-Bahrain. Since then, authorizations have been rare.

The ban on women in stadiums is regularly criticized within the political system. Conservative moderate, President Hassan Rohani has repeatedly said his willingness to put an end to it. This project nevertheless continues to face the opposition of the ultraconservative clan.

With AFP