Iran’s World Cup qualifier against Cambodia on Thursday will be a landmark moment for the country, as women will be able to officially enter a football stadium for the first time in decades.
The initial allocation of 3,500 tickets for female fans was quickly sold out – reportedly in under an hour – before an additional 1,100 were released for the match at the national Azadi Stadium.
“This is a hugely historic moment for Iranian football, but also for the Iranian women who have protested in the face of [the risk of] being caught and almost certainly sent to Evin Prison, the famous prison for political prisoners in Tehran,” football author and writer James Montague told CNN.
“All eyes are on Tehran to see if this actually happens. I was in Tehran last year when 30 women were arrested outside the ground and Gianni Infantino was actually at the stadium to watch the Tehran Derby when that happened,” added Montague, referring to the FIFA president.
“So everybody is aware of this problem but, of course, with issues like this, you’re worried they might have sold 3,500 tickets for women but there will be multiple numbers outside trying to get in.