Iranian women are being given what is a real treat for them – entering a sports stadium. The 2018 FIFA World Cup games are broadcast live from Russia and beamed onto a 1,200 square meter screen that has been set up on the field at Azadi stadium in the western part of Tehran.
While the setup may seem peculiar to women in most other countries, for Iranian women, the arrangement is novel. While there is no official ban on women attending sporting events in Iran, they are often refused entry.
Since the Iranian revolution in 1979 Iran has had strict rules for females: imposing the compulsory wearing of a headscarf; the banning of riding bikes in public; and preventing women from attending sports events involving the opposite gender.
In March of last year, 35 women were detained for trying to attend a football game between the Tehran-based teams Esteqlal and Persepolis. Iran’s Interior Ministry Spokesman Salman Samani said at the time that the women were not arrested, but transferred to a "proper place" by police, temporarily held, and released after the match, according to Iran Focus.
Later, in September, women had protested outside Azadi Stadium because they were not allowed in to see Iran's World Cup qualifying match against Syria, despite having pre-ordered tickets.
Iran’s national football team competes against Portugal, Spain and Morocco in Group B which kicked off last week in Moscow. While average Iranians are paying attention to sports, the government has some bigger things to worry about – namely the imposition of new sanctions by the U.S., due to President Donald Trump’s announcement in early May that he would be pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal.
On June 4, Nike announced that it will not provide shoes to members of Iran's National Football Team for the World Cup because of American sanctions.
Nike said in a statement that "U.S. sanctions mean that, as a U.S. company, Nike cannot supply shoes to players in the Iranian national team at this time.”
In a response, Iran's football coach Carlos Queiroz called on Nike to apologize to the team for its decision not to supply the Iranian players.
Germany’s Adidas, which is the supplier of the team’s uniforms, announced that it would not offer Iranian jerseys for sale to the public.
According to Iran Wire, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) official store, which sells the uniforms of all the teams competing at the World Cup, has told shoppers to buy Iranian football outfits from Iran’s Football Federation.