Published: Tue, September 10, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Iran to probe death of 'blue girl' football fan

Iran to probe death of 'blue girl' football fan

She had attempted to enter a football stadium disguised as a man because women are often prohibited from attending games.

The judiciary's Mizan Online website said on Tuesday that no sentence had been issued since there had been no trial and the judge was away on holiday.

She then set herself alight in front of the court house and later died in hospital.

"Her family received a warning and is not allowed to talk to the media anymore", Maziyar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian journalist and filmmaker who is in contract with Khodayari's family, told DW.

The woman, referred to as Sahar, which is not her real name, was arrested in March when she tried to enter a football stadium.

Khodayari was taken to a Tehran hospital with severe burns, and she died late Monday.

Iran has come under pressure from Federation Internationale de Football Association to allow women to attend qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, reportedly giving it a deadline of August 31.

According to the BBC, it is thought she overheard someone at the court suggesting that she could be jailed for between six months and two years if she was found guilty.

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According to her sister, who spoke to state-run media outlets, Khodayari had bipolar disorder and was under the supervision of a doctor. Her father said she had stopped taking medication a year ago.

She spent three nights in jail before being released, pending the court case.

Former Bayern Munich midfielder Ali Karimi, who played 127 matches for Iran and has been a vocal advocate of ending the ban on women, urged Iranians in a tweet to boycott stadiums to protest against Ms Khodayari's death.

Last November, authorities allowed hundreds of Iranian women to attend Azadi Stadium to watch an official soccer match for the first time. The conservative Shafaqna news agency acknowledged her death in a brief item Tuesday, noting that the case had drawn worldwide attention and caused "counterrevolutionary media" to cry over the case. Female lawmaker Parvaneh Salahshouri called Khodayari "Iran's Girl" and tweeted: "We are all responsible".

Federation Internationale de Football Association has given the Islamic Republic until October to pave way for women to freely enter sports arenas and watch men's live matches.

Masoud Shojaei, the captain of the Iran men's football team, said on Instagram that the ban is "rooted in outdated and cringe-worthy thoughts that will not be understood by future generations".

Amnesty International separately said that as far as it knows, "Iran is the only country in the world that stops and punishes women" seeking to enter soccer stadiums.

The ban is not written into law or regulations but is "ruthlessly enforced" by the country's authorities, said Human Rights Watch, calling it a "clear violation of the rules in FIFA".

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