Iran to investigate death of ‘blue girl’ football fan - GulfToday

Iran to investigate death of ‘blue girl’ football fan

Iranian female soccer fans

Supporters hold a banner reading ‘Let Iranian women enter their stadiums.’

Tehran: Iran is to probe the death of a woman football fan, state media said Tuesday, after she reportedly set herself ablaze in fear of being jailed, triggering calls for an end to a ban on women attending matches.

Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar had asked the judiciary to look into the case in a letter, the state-run Iran newspaper reported.

Sahar Khodayari, 30, was arrested early last year when she tried to enter a stadium dressed as a man to watch her favourite team, Esteghlal FC, the Varzesh 3 sports news outlet said, citing her sister.

Dubbed “blue girl” because of Esteghlal’s colours, she set herself on fire outside the court last week after hearing someone there say she would be going to prison for six months, it said.

Iran has barred Iranian women spectators from football and other stadiums since 1981, with clerics arguing they must be protected from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.

The judiciary’s Mizan Online website said a young woman had been arrested when she tried to enter a stadium and faced charges of offending “public chastity and insulting” law enforcement officers.

Citing an informed judiciary official, it said no sentence had been issued since there had been no trial and the judge was away on leave.

The reported death sparked an outcry online, where many using the hashtag #blue_girl called on world football’s governing body FIFA to ban Iran from competitions.

Pictures said to be of her in hospital covered in heavy bandages have been shared widely on social media. Iranian football legend Ali Karimi urged his 4.5 million Instagram followers to boycott stadiums.

“The women of our land are better than men,” he wrote alongside an image of a woman with a football for a heart and flames over her head.

FIFA said it was “aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it”.

Agence France-Presse