Where are our Iranian sisters?
Date: 2009/02/14   

Azadi Stadium, the largest football stadium in Iran, was host to a group of four Iranian women audience members who were there to watch the South Korea vs. Iran football match 3 days ago, on Febryary 11 .

Iranian women are not allowed to enter football stadiums in Iran, even though foreign fans may enter regardless of gender. However, with the help and support of a group of Korean female spectators, these four fans were able to watch the game. The Iranian women were representatives for "White Scarf Campaign", which fights for women’s access to public stadiums in Iran. Outside the stadium, the campaigner gave the Korean female spectators the following letter describing how they are deprived from the right to be part of stadium audiences:

"Dear Korean Sisters: You are now in the biggest stadium of our country, enjoying being audience to an important game between your country's national football team and ours. Congratulations, Sisters. Unfortunately, we are not allowed (by the Iranian authorities) to be in your shoes at this time—we, the Iranian female football fanatics! Could you please shout once, just once, for us in support of IRAN? Would you do it for us, sisters? While you are screaming, shouting, clapping for your team, we are prisoners in our homes, behind a damn television screen. We have to kill the scream in our throats; we just cry, even when we are happy, because our footballers cannot hear us encouraging them."
In response, a group of Korean women took the four campaigners into the stadium in order to show their solidarity with Iranian women. During the match, the Koreans held up signs saying: “Where are our Iranian sisters?”

It was the second time Iranian women watched a football match in Azadi stadium. In 2005, 30 members of the “Open Stadiums to Women Audience” Campaign were allowed to enter Azadi and watch the Bahrain vs. Iran match. Although the white scarf campaigners have tried faithfully to repeat this occurrence, they have never succeeded, deprived of their civil rights by police and security forces. These failed attempts prompted them to ask for the help of Korean women who could freely enter the stadium.

According to the statute of Iran`s football federation, discrimination against anyone on account of gender is prohibited.


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