Iran allows women into soccer match for the first time in 35 years

Iranian women cheer as they wave their country's flag during a friendly soccer match between Iran and Bolivia Tuesday at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran. In a rare move, authorities allowed a select group of women to attend a men's game. (Vahid Salemi/Associated Press)

In 2006, Iran’s president tried to restore one small piece of the civil liberties the Islamic Republic had repressed since its 1979 revolution.
Then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rescinded the decades-old ban on female spectators at men’s soccer matches. Iran’s religious leaders had argued that allowing women to see men play sports violated Muslim laws promoting piety. Ahmadinejad disagreed.
“The best stands should be allocated to women and families in the stadiums in which national and important matches are being held,” he said on state television. “The presence of women and families in public places promotes chastity.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reinstated the ban weeks later.
But Tuesday, for the first time in 35 years, according to Iranian state media, women were allowed to watch Iran’s national team, better known as Team Melli. The occasion was a friendly against Bolivia at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium.

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