The national men's football (soccer) team of Iran won their World Cup qualifying match against Cambodia 14-0 on Thursday when female fans have watched the country's national footballers play after authorities allowed them to buy tickets for the first time in four decades.
Iran earned an impressive win over Cambodia at the qualifying game for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023. It’s Team Melli’s second successive win in the competition after a 2-0 win over Hong Kong in September in Group C. Iran have been drawn in Group C alongside Iraq, Bahrain, Cambodia and Hong Kong.
Iran scored seven goals in the first half in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, where the Iranian women attended an international match for the first time after many years.
Over 3,000 Iranian female fans watched from a special women-only section in Tehran's Azadi Stadium, celebrating their long-awaited access to the national stadium but also paying tribute to Sahar Khodayari - known as the "blue girl" who set herself on fire to protest against her arrest for trying to get into a match.
The pressure on Iran to allow women to watch football matches without restriction had already been increasing after FIFA brought in statutes that banned countries from discriminating against fans on the basis of gender. However, FIFA had sent a delegation to Tehran to ensure that women were allowed to attend the game following the death of Khodayari, last month.
On September 1, Sahar Khodayari, who was spotted in the stadium despite the ban, set herself on fire outside the public prosecutor’s office in Tehran. She died from burns on September 10. She tried to get into the stadium in March to watch a match of her favorite club, Esteghlal Tehran, disguised as a man, but was arrested and later sentenced to six months in prison for insulting a government official. In protest against the conviction, the 30-year-old committed suicide.
In Iran, women have been banned from attending football matches in the stadium since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The government imposed the compulsory wearing of a headscarf; the banning of riding bikes in public; and preventing women from attending sports events involving the opposite gender.
Meanwhile, the eight group winners and four best runners-up will advance to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals and the final round of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The next best 24 teams from the second round of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining 12 slots in the 24-team AFC Asian Cup China 2023.