Women in Iran freely attend FIFA soccer game for first time in decades

Thursday was a monumental day in Iran as thousands of women cheered on the men's national team inside Tehran's Azadi Stadium. It marked the first time in decades women were allowed to attend an official FIFA match in the country. Women were allowed to attend the 2022 World Cup qualifier between Iran and Cambodia after pressure from the world's governing body of the sport. 

The ban came into place following the country's Islamic revolution in 1981. Iran faced a potential ban for not allowing women attend, according to the AP. Iran's national team made the 2018 World Cup and nearly got out of a group that included Spain and Portugal. 

In September, a woman was detained for dressing as a man to sneak into a stadium, the AP reported. The woman later died after setting herself on fire after learning she could spend six months in prison. 

Women flooded the stadium on Thursday, and it made for quite the atmosphere:

Only 4,000 tickets were allocated for women in a stadium that seats 80,000. The stadium was largely empty other than the women in attendance.

"We are so happy that finally we got the chance to go to the stadium. It's an extraordinary feeling," 29-year-old nurse Zahra Pashaei told the AP. "At least for me, 22 or 23 years of longing and regret lies behind this."

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Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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