The death of Iranian woman who set herself on fire in protest against the ban on women entering the country’s football stadium has prompted an outcry against the country’s draconian law.
Know as the “Blue Girl” for her support of the Iranian football team Estighlal, Sahar Khodayari attempted self immolation last Saturday after leaving a court in Tehran during her trial for attempting to enter Azadi stadium disguised as a man.
Witnesses told local press that Ms Khodayari, 30, shouted anti-regime slogans while dousing herself with petrol. She is believed to have overheard someone say she would be sentenced to at least six months in prison before setting herself on fire.
The country’s vice president for women and family affairs has asked the judiciary chief to look into the case in a letter, a state-run newspaper reported.
Iranian authorities had said that she had resisted arrest after being identified as a woman by the morality police and “confronted them physically”, a charge that her family have denied.
Her death was announced in a statement by Motahari hospital in Tehran on Monday, where she was on life support with 90 percent burns to her body.
The incident has prompted a national debate about the ban, with Iranian footballers leading the call to scrap it.
“This horrific incident is the result of a diabolical and outdated mentality that our future generations will have difficulty to grasp it”, Massoud Shojaie, captain of the national team said.
Many other Iranians have expressed their anger on social media and called on fans to boycott all Iran’s first league matches and refuse to attend country’s stadiums if the ban continues.
Since the 1979 revolution Iranian women have been banned from attending football stadiums as the clerical regime says watching men in football strips “is sinful”.
Amnesty International on Tuesday called on Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation to heap pressure on Iran to end the ban. It said: “What happened to Sahar Khodayari is heartbreaking.
Her only ‘crime’ was being a woman in a country where women face discrimination that is entrenched in law and plays out in the most horrific ways imaginable in every area of their lives, even sports.
“This discriminatory ban must end immediately and the international community – including football’s world governing body, FIFA, and the Asian Football Confederation – must take urgent action to end the ban and to ensure that women are allowed access to all sports stadiums without discrimination or risk of prosecution or punishment."
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