Ask FIFA to compel Iran to let Iranian women enter their stadiums

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To the President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association,
Dear Mr. Infantino

As reported by official news agencies internationally, a young Iranian woman, Sahar Khodayari , now named ‘The Blue Girl’, attended an Iranian soccer match at Tehran's Azadi Stadium. She disguised herself in men’s attire and joined the crowd at the stadium to watch the match.  She did this because women are not allowed to attend the games along with men. She was subsequently arrested, interrogated, and then sentenced to six months in prison by the Iranian Judiciary, for this act of ‘Civil Disobedience’. Sadly, Sahar then committed self-immolation in front of the court when she learned of the verdict. Within days, she died from the injuries she sustained.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, a.k.a. IRI, for 40 years has failed to recognise the most basic of women’s rights. The Iranian government supports and promotes a social system which is based on gender segregation, discrimination and persecution. Women experience systemic repression and movements for Women’s Rights are not privileged to social acceptance or public support. In other words, gender suppression is considered a policy of the IRI.  Within the different stratum of Iranian society, women from lower and minority classes have had the worst experiences. During the IRI’s forty years of government, women living in Iran have experienced discrimination and censorship in all aspects of their private and social lives. On a daily basis, Iranian women exhibit resistance to these repressive laws through acts of social, political, and civil disobedience; often at great risk to themselves and their families. That is what Sahar has done, and unfortunately, the simple joy of going to a soccer game has cost her life as the price.

We believe that FIFA and all other International Sports organisations, which speak about and promote the rights and equality of women and sexual minorities; are remiss in their apparent indifference to this gross gender discrimination promoted by the Iranian political system. We believe the FIFA should respond strongly not only by acknowledging the act that killed Sahar Khodayari, but by taking real action in the sanctioning of the Iranian sports associations affiliated with FIFA. Therefore, sending a message to the world that the exclusion of women from sporting events, or any segment of society, based solely on an unjust and warped view of justice is unacceptable and that FIFA will not support this segregation. 

The horrific fire, that took Sahar’s life, symbolises the situation of women and sexual minorities in Iran who have been burnt for years, by the fire of this state sponsored discrimination. That is why we believe that the FIFA should respond in protest by no longer holding soccer matches in a country where women are driven to burning themselves as a way of demanding their basic rights. FIFA should sanction all soccer games in Iran until the IRI is compelled to respond, at the very least.

We also invite sport figures, artists, activists, academics and anyone who recognises the importance of human’s right  to join us in this petition

Yours sincerely,