Iranian soccer stars condemn government after fan sets herself on fire

Sara reportedly is suffering from burns covering 90% of her body and is on life support.

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September 8, 2019 11:56
2 minute read.
Iranian soccer stars condemn government after fan sets herself on fire

Iran's Morteza Pouraliganji celebrates their first goal . (photo credit: REUTERS/KIM HONG-JI)

Iranian soccer players Masoud Shojaei and Vorya Ghaffouri have spoken out in condemnation of the Islamic Republic following the arrest of a 29-year-old woman after she tried to enter a men's soccer match.

The woman attempted to disguise herself as a man in order to enter the stadium. She was stopped by security forces and then quickly escorted to Qarchak prison, known to be one of the country's more menacing prisons due to "inhumane medical and psychological conditions," according to Radio Farda.

"As we are shocked by the limitations that were set for women in the past, the future generation will also definitely be astonished by [finding out] that women were banned from entering sports arenas in our time," said Shojaei, the captain of the Iranian men's football team on a live Instagram post.

"The origin of such limitations is the rotten and disgusting thinking of the past, and will be incomprehensible for the next generation," he said.

Upon her release, the women known only by the alias "Sara" went to the prosecutor's office to collect her confiscated cellphone, where she learned that she will be given a six-month prison sentence for the infraction, according to Radio Farda.

"This school of thought that bans women from entering sports stadiums is not justifiable," Esteqlal captain Ghaffouri wrote in an Instagram post.

Sara, who allegedly was suffering from and was under treatment for bipolar disorder, protested the sentence by pouring gasoline over her body and setting herself on fire directly outside a court in Tehran. Many have requested FIFA to hold the Iranian football federation accountable as a result of the court case.

"The 29-year-old is suffering from third-degree burns, and is currently under life support," said the CEO of Motahari Emergency and Burns Hospital.

Sara reportedly is suffering from burns covering 90% of her body.

"Without a doubt, the self-immolation of a girl today after the extension of her custody on the charge of trying to enter a stadium to watch football is rooted in outdated and cringe-worthy thoughts that will not be understood by future generations," said Shojaei.

According to Radio Farda, within hours after Shojaei and Ghaffouri posted their condemnations, many other "well-known" players joined in to voice their support of lifting the restriction on women from entering men's sporting events.

This incident comes almost three weeks after Iran, under international pressure, released a group of women who were arrested for watching a men's soccer match. The women disguised themselves as men, just as Sara did, but failed to fool Iranian officials. Their situation had a more positive ending, since they were released from jail.

Iran has consistently faced international scrutiny regarding its modesty laws. According to the Telegraph, Iran says that women watching men's soccer promotes promiscuity.

Soccer's world governing body FIFA commands a code of ethics against discrimination and has given the country an ultimatum that it must fulfill by October: Allow women to enter sports arenas or the Iranian team will be removed from international soccer events, Radio Farda reported.

Iran is presently the only country in the world that prohibits women from entering sporting events.

The rule stems from an "unwritten law" that has been "supported by religious conservatives and political hardliners" since the change in power during the Islamic Revolution of 1979, according to Radio Farda.


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