An Iranian woman detained for dressing as a man to sneak into a soccer game has reportedly died from injuries she sustained after setting herself on fire in protest of her possible six-month prison sentence. The death of 29-year-old Sahar Khodayari, who was nicknamed the “Blue Girl” for the blue wig and coat she wore to sneak into games, has highlighted the tensions between FIFA and Iranian authorities over the country’s ban on women entering stadiums for men’s games, a law that came about during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Khodayari was arrested in March after she snuck into Tehran’s Azadi Stadium to watch a match between her favorite team, Esteghlal, and the United Arab Emirates. She spent three nights in jail before being released. She reportedly learned she could face prison time when she returned to court in Tehran to retrieve her seized mobile phone. On Sep. 2, she set herself on fire in front of Tehran’s Ershad courthouse and suffered burns on 90 percent of her body.
Khodayari’s sister told an Iranian newspaper that her sister suffered from bipolar disorder, and her father said she had stopped taking medication a year ago, according to the AP. Iran, which is the top-ranked team in Asia, will host its first home World Cup qualifier against Cambodia on Oct. 1, and FIFA is pushing to allow women before then. Many Iranian public figures came out in support of the Blue Girl on social media including former Bayern Munich midfielder Ali Karimi, a vocal advocate of ending the ban on women. He tweeted a plea for Iranians to boycott soccer stadiums in protest of Khodayari’s death.