First Sudan women football league.. A step in the right direction
TEHRAN, Oct 5, (Agencies): Iranian women have snapped up tickets for Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against Cambodia in Tehran after they were released for sale via a website.
Iranian authorities had assured world governing body FIFA that women would be allowed to attend the game and have set aside sections of the stadium for women.
The semi-official Iranian news agency ISNA said the 3,500 tickets allocated for women sections sold out within minutes of going on sale on Friday morning.
FIFA told Reuters it had been informed a total of 4,600 tickets for women would be made available in the initial batches but that it expects more to be put on sale to meet the demand from female fans.
A spokesman for the organisation said FIFA would be sending a delegation to the Azadi Stadium in Tehran to monitor the access for women.
An activist with the group “Open Stadiums” which campaigns for Iranian women to be able to freely attend matches, said tickets for the game at the 78,000-capacity venue had gone on sale early on Friday morning and were sold via a website in small blocks.
The activist said the tickets went on sale without any announcement from the Iranian Football Federation and news of their availability only reached women via social media.
“It was quite a chaotic situation,” she told Reuters.
The group welcomed the sale but said it was concerned that women only sections stopped mothers taking their sons to matches and that it was also unclear how women with disabilities would be accommodated.
At Iran’s friendly against Syria in June, women were locked out of the Azadi Stadium and detained by security forces.
A female Iranian fan died last month after setting herself on fire to protest against her arrest for trying to enter a match.
Sahar Khodayari, dubbed “Blue Girl” for the colours of her favourite team Esteghlal, died in hospital after her self-immolation outside a court where she feared being jailed for six months after trying to attend the match disguised as a man.
Khodayari’s death caused widespread outrage in Iran and internationally, prompting calls on social media for Iran’s football federation to be suspended or banned by FIFA.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on FIFA to reject restrictions on how many women could attend.
“Iran’s ban on half the population attending football matches has led to women and girls risking arrest, jail, and even their lives to challenge it,” said Minky Worden, HRW’s director of global initiatives in a statement.
“Any concessions by FIFA to limit the number of women who can attend stadiums only empowers Iran’s hardliners who have … (kept) discriminatory restrictions in place,” Worden added.
FIFA sent officials to Tehran last month to discuss preparations for Thursday’s match including allowing access to women to the stadium.
While foreign women have been allowed limited access to matches, Iranian women have been banned from stadiums when men’s teams have been playing since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
There were signs the situation regarding female fans in Iran was changing when a group of women were permitted to attend the second leg of the Asian Champions League final in Tehran last November, a match attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
But female fans have been denied access to matches since.
FIFA says it wants Iranian authorities to allow women access not only to World Cup qualifiers but to all games in the country.
KHARTOUM: After the huge leaps made in the Sudanese political sphere, women in the country took another bold step to solidify their rights by launching the first women football league.
Speaking to KUNA on the matter, Minister of Youth and Sports Wala Al-Boushi said that the launch of the league – featuring 20 teams – would develop women sports in the country, providing a glimpse of hope for a country with a history of conflict and political upheavals.
Women took the initiative in the Sudanese revolution and here they are trying to prove themselves on the football pitch, she said proudly.
Delivering similar statements, head of the women football committee Mervat Hussein affirmed that women football was a huge part of FIFA’s plan for the overall global development, saying that the current strategy was to boost the skills of young female footballers from age six to 16.
The next step is to choose a national team that would represent Sudan regionally and internationally, Hussein revealed.
While some Sudanese received the news of the launch of the league positively, there are various conservative entities in opposition of the step.
On the subject, women activist Tahani Abbas objected to the conservative view in regarding to women involvement in the sport, claiming that women were involved in football since the mid-1970s and 1980s, citing that Monira Ramadan – a female referee – had led several men games at that period.
The first ever all-female game was held in 1975, stated Abbas refuting claims that women involvement was against traditions and norms.
The activist affirmed that women needed to further their cause in Sudan especially after the revolution.
Meanwhile, administrator at 2001-established Al-Tahadi football club Nuha Abdulmohsen said that she was proud of current achievements for Sudanese women footballers, hoping that more progress would be made within the same sphere.
On the prospect of winning the league, Abdulmohsen stressed that the team will do all that it can to come out triumphant, adding that the win for any team in the league is an indication of how the women had made huge leaps in achieving their rights.
The women football committee of Sudan was formed in 2018 after extensive effort made the previous year at the Sudan football federation.