What does Iranian soccer have to do with women’s rights?


Iranian women cheer during a soccer match between their national team and Cambodia in the 2022 World Cup qualifier at the Azadi (Freedom) Stadium in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Iranian women were freely allowed into the stadium for the first time in decades. The decision follows the death of a young woman who set herself on fire after hearing she could face prison time for sneaking into an Iranian soccer match disguised as a man. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

For the first time in almost four decades, women in Iran have been allowed to buy tickets and attend a sporting match at public stadiums.

On October 10, thousands of Iranian women packed Azadi or Freedom stadium in Tehran to watch their side thrash Cambodia.

The football match itself didn’t make headlines, but the female spectators cheering their team on, garnered a lot of attention. Iranian women were previously forbidden from entering stadiums.

But many are still asking whether Tehran’s move signals more inclusiveness to come – or is it just a cosmetic distraction from the real issue of women’s rights.

For a unique perspective on the sport – and how it plays into women’s rights in the Islamic nation – we were joined by Katayoun Khosrwyar, former Head coach of Iran’s Under 19 women’s National Team.