FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2018 file photo, Iranian women cheer as they wave their country's flag after authorities in a rare move allowed a select group of women into Azadi stadium to watch a friendly soccer match between Iran and Bolivia, in Tehran, Iran. Sahar Khodayari, an Iranian female soccer fan died after setting herself on fire outside a court after learning she may have to serve a six-month sentence for trying to enter a soccer stadium where women are banned, a semi-official news agency reported Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. The 30-year-old was known as the "Blue Girl" on social media for the colors of her favorite Iranian soccer team, Esteghlal. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

FIFA boss hopeful Iran will lift ban on women soccer fans

September 19, 2019 - 5:23 am

ZURICH (AP) — FIFA president Gianni Infantino is raising hopes Iran will lift a ban on women entering soccer stadiums before a World Cup qualifying game next month.

Attention on the ban intensified when a 29-year-old activist, Sahar Khodayari, died this month after setting herself on fire. She had been detained for dressing as a man to enter a soccer stadium.

Infantino says in a statement "now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match."

Iran, the top-ranked team in Asia, hosts Cambodia at the 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium in Tehran on Oct. 10.

Infantino has been urging Iran's government to lift the 40-year ban imposed after the Islamic Revolution.

He says: "Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran."

FIFA has officials in Iran monitoring preparations at the stadium should the ban be lifted.

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