Sports Football 11 Sep 2019 Iranian woman kills ...

Iranian woman kills herself after being denied entry to football stadium

Published Sep 11, 2019, 1:59 am IST
Updated Sep 11, 2019, 9:49 am IST
Iran has barred Iranian women spectators from football and other stadiums since 1981.
Sahar Khodayari
 Sahar Khodayari

Tehran: Iran’s judiciary has been asked to investigate the death of a woman football fan, state media said on Tuesday, after she reportedly self-immolated because she feared imprisonment for trying to enter a stadium.

Iran has barred Iranian women spectators from football and other stadiums since 1981, with clerics arguing they must be protected from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.


The country’s vice president for women and family affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, asked the judiciary chief to look into the case in a letter, the state-run Iran newspaper reported.

Sahar Khodayari, 30, was arrested last year when she tried to go into a stadium dressed as a man to watch her favourite team, Esteghlal FC, the Varzesh 3 sports news outlet said, citing her sister.

Dubbed “blue girl” because of Esteghlal’s colours, she set herself on fire outside the court last week upon hearing from someone there that she would be going to prison for six months, it said.


The judiciary’s Mizan Online website said on Tuesday that no sentence had been issued since there had been no trial and the judge was away on holiday.

The death of Khodayari sparked an outcry online, with many calling on world football’s governing body Fifa to ban Iran from international competitions and for fans to boycott matches.

Pictures said to be of her in hospital covered in heavy bandages have been shared widely on social media.

Iranian football legend Ali Karimi urged his 4.5 million Instagram followers to boycott stadiums until further notice. “The women of our land are better than men,” he wrote alongside an image of a woman with a football for a heart and flames over her head.


Esteghlal FC expressed sorrow over her death. “The tragic death of our beloved child, Ms Sahar Khodayari, has caused much sadness and regret for Esteghlal FC,” it said in a statement.

The judiciary’s news website said her body had been handed over to her family, who live in Qom, south of the Iranian capital.