Calls to ban Iran from World Cup for tear-gassing women to bar access at match

Iranian regime security forces on Tuesday used tear gas and pepper spray on women who sought to watch a soccer game between Lebanon and Iran.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino waits for the start of a signing ceremony at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) headquarters in Vienna, Austria September 14, 2020.  (photo credit: LEONHARD FOEGER / REUTERS)
FIFA President Gianni Infantino waits for the start of a signing ceremony at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) headquarters in Vienna, Austria September 14, 2020.
(photo credit: LEONHARD FOEGER / REUTERS)

Iranian regime security forces on Tuesday used tear gas and pepper spray on women who sought to watch a soccer game between Lebanon and Iran, sparking urgent calls to ban the clerical regime’s soccer team from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

Iran’s regime once again defied FIFA, the world soccer federation, after it ordered the regime in Tehran to allow women into stadiums in 2019.   

Shocking video footage on social media showed women gassed and pepper-sprayed by security forces. 

The Voice of America journalist and women’s rights campaigner, Masih Alinejad, posted a video. She wrote: “A young man who took this video asked me to pass his message to @FIFAcom : My friend & I, bought the ticket to go to stadium but see how she got attacked with pepper spray for the crime of being a girl. I refused to go to stadium but shame on you if you ignore this barbaric act.” 

Azadi Stadium, Tehran, Iran - January 27, 2022 Iran fans celebrate outside the stadium after the match. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)Azadi Stadium, Tehran, Iran - January 27, 2022 Iran fans celebrate outside the stadium after the match. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

The news organization France 24 cited a tweet from Shahram Bozorgi (@shahramart7) who wrote: 

“It’s sad but I hope that FIFA, in reaction to this scandalous event in Mashhad and bullying by the government, bans Iran from participating in the Doha World Cup. In this situation, there’s no more fun in attending the football matches nor watching them on TV."

According to the London-based Iran International media organization, the football federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran did not offer any apologies.  

The federation claimed in a statement that tickets purchased by the women had been sold by "ticket forgers" or the women did not reveal that they were female when they bought tickets online. "Only nine women had purchased tickets for men's section of the stadium who will be reimbursed within 48 hours," wrote the federation. 

The Iranian federation added, "Doubtlessly the bitter episodes during this game were the result of mischief and profiteering of individuals who jeopardized the order and security of the stadium by printing and selling fake tickets.”. 

In another tweet, Alinejad took the US envoy to Iran, Rob Malley, for previously praising Iran’s regime:” When the Islamic Republic allowed a token number of women to attend a soccer match @USEnvoyIran was cheerleading for the Iranian regime, but when the same regime pepper sprays hundreds of women, Rob Malley is silent. Whose side is he on?” 

Malley is under fire for reportedly agreeing to deep concessions to Iran’s regime to secure a controversial nuclear deal. The atomic accord would provide sanctions relief to Iran’s regime in exchange for temporary restraints on its alleged nuclear weapons program. 

The match between Iran and Lebanon was a qualification contest for the world cup. Iran defeated Lebanon 2-0. The US government news organization Radio Farda reporter Golnaz Esfandiari reported that FIFA  “heard  with concerns reports that women were not allowed at the match in Mashhad yesterday and is asking the Iranian Football Federation [for] more information on the matter.” 

 One Iran journalist wrote, according to Iran International:” "This statement is clear evidence of gender discrimination," and urged FIFA to ban Iran’s Football Federation 

The Iranian regime-controlled The Iranian Students News Agency said roughly 12,500 fans bought tickets for the Iran-Lebanon match, including 2,000 women.  Iran's regime and the radical Islamic regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan are the two nations that have traditionally banned women from watching soccer in stadiums.