Women Entering Azadi Soccor Stadium for the first Time

(in Persian)

Event's Voices

Women have been banned from entering soccer stadiums for about 25 years, according to Washington Post. However, on June 9, 2005, a group of feminist activists, along with some female soccer fans headed toward Azadi (Freedom) Stadium to watch Iran's national soccer team's game with Bahrain. They were about 30 people according to the photographer Mansour Nasiri. It wasn't easy to pass the police barrier, but they could finally watch the second half of the game on the stadium's bleachers, celebrating the 1-0 victory of Iran's team which secured a slot for the team in 2006 World Cup.

This was not just a one-time attempt by a group of soccer fans, says Parastoo Dokouhaki, the organizer of the event. The group involved with "Open Stadiums to Women Audience" campaign, started their efforts to open the doors of stadiums to women months before the start of 2006 World Cup preliminary series. They have collected 112,270 online signatures, pleading FIFA and Iranian authorities to allow women enter the stadiums.

The ban is a symbol of gender segregation in Iran, according to Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, the head of Iranian NGO's Training Center, whose leg broke while getting pushed to the stadium's gates by the police. The "Open Stadiums to Women Audience" campaign can highlight the bigger picture of inequalities in women's citizenship laws and gender segregation in Iran, Abbasgholizadeh said.

The photos here are taken from the first and only time women could enter a soccer stadium in Iran inthe past 25 years. But this is not the end, this is just the beginning, says Mansour Nasiri, a male photographer who is as enthusiastic as female members of the campaign to let women enter Azadi Stadium.

Photos by Mansour Nasiri
Audio courtesy of Parastoo Dokouhaki and Ali Ghadimi
Music: Na Begoo (Say NO) by Masoumeh Naseri