Iranian women will be allowed to enter a soccer stadium for the first time in about 40 years Thursday, ahead of a FIFA World Cup qualifier match. FIFA threatened to suspend Iran over its male-only policy and last month ordered Iran to allow women into stadiums without any restrictions and to sell tickets to women in line on demand. One of the women who scored a ticket was sports journalist Raha Poorbakhsh. “I still can’t believe this is going to happen because after all these years of working in this field, watching everything on television, now I can experience everything in person,” Poorbakhsh told AFP.
FIFA’s announcement came after a fan died after setting herself on fire in fear of going to jail for dressing as a man so she could attend a game, The Guardian reports. The first round of tickets for Iran’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cambodia at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium sold out in less than an hour, and extra seats were also picked up shortly thereafter, according to Iran’s state media. While there are no laws or regulations banning women from stadiums in Iran, officials argue they should not attend due to the masculine atmosphere and sight of men in sports uniforms.