Women’s rights group is calling on FIFA to kick Iran out of the World Cup


HONG KONG, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Rights group Open Stadiums has called on FIFA to kick Iran out of November’s World Cup in Qatar over the country’s treatment of women.

In a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Thursday, the organization said the Iranian authorities continued to refuse to allow women fans to attend matches in the country, despite pressure from the governing body.

“The Iranian Federation is not only an accomplice to the regime’s crimes. He is a direct threat to the safety of women fans in Iran and wherever our national team plays in the world. Football should be a safe space for all of us,” the letter said.

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“Therefore, it is with an extremely heavy heart that we, as Iranian football fans, must express our deepest concern about Iran’s participation in the upcoming FIFA World Cup.

“Why should FIFA give the Iranian state and its representatives a global stage when they not only refuse to respect basic human rights and dignity, but are currently torturing and killing their own people?

“Where are the principles of the FIFA Statutes in this regard?

“Therefore, on the basis of Articles 3 and 4 of its statutes, we call on FIFA to immediately ban Iran from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.”

The articles cited address the issues of human rights and non-discrimination based on gender, race, religion and other matters, with violations punishable by suspension or expulsion from the global body.

Neither FIFA nor the Iranian FA immediately responded to a Reuters request for comment.

The call comes as protests over the death of a young woman in police custody continued in several cities across Iran on Thursday, state and social media reported, as a human rights group said at least 83 people had been killed in nearly two weeks of demonstrations. Continue reading

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has described the unrest as the latest in a series of actions by hostile Western powers against Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Open Stadiums has campaigned for women to be allowed to attend football matches in Iran for the past decade, but with limited success.

Under pressure from Infantino, a small group of female fans were granted access to Persepolis’ home game in the 2018 Asian Champions League final in Tehran.

Since then, however, there has been minimal progress as female fans were banned from attending Iran’s World Cup qualifier against Lebanon in Mashad in March and a video surfaced of female fans being pepper sprayed outside the stadium.

Coached by Carlos Queiroz, the national team played friendlies against Uruguay and Senegal in Austria during the recent international break, with both games being played behind closed doors due to security concerns.

Iran are expected to be in their sixth World Cup finals and meet England, Wales and the United States in Qatar.

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Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, edited by Peter Rutherford

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