Iranian President Rouhani Pledged Women Will Get Access to Stadiums — FIFA Chief

FIFA President, Infantino Wants Saudi-Iran Rift Out Of Football

35 women were detained in Tehran on Thursday after trying to attend a soccer match, which was attended by FIFA's president Gianni Infantino.

But women have been banned from watching football in Iran since 1979, and as a outcome, they were temporarily held by police before being released after the match.

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency cited the interior ministry as saying about 35 women were stopped from entering the Azadi Stadium on Thursday for a game between Esteqlal and Persepolis and "were instructed to a proper place by police".

Under recent reforms, women are now allowed into football matches and sporting events in Saudi Arabia. Later today he is due to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

In a statement emailed to VOA Persian Friday, FIFA said it is "strongly committed to promoting the protection of human rights including especially the right of women to attend football matches".

"I hope, I am confident, I was promised that women in Iran will have access to football stadiums soon", he said.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino talks to the media after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Feb. 21, 2018.

There was no immediate Iranian comment on Infantino's remarks.

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He also condemned what he said were the false accusations of a systematic campaign of abuse against churches and Christians. The status of Jerusalem has always been a point of contention, as both Israel and Palestinians claim the city.

Infantino did not specify who made the pledge, nor did he address the fact only men are allowed into Iranian stadiums during a speech in the country on Thursday.

Rouhani has repeatedly criticized the ban but has been unable to get it removed because of resistance from powerful hardliners in Iran's clerical and security establishment.

"Iran is a safe country and is ready to host regional and global sports and groups", said Rouhani, pointing out that regional federations should seek to bring nations closer together and increase friendships.

"I hope that Iranian men, as they have done before, will stand together with women to help them to get their rights back", she said.

It said Rouhani also referred to the "passionate presence of women in various fields of sport, especially football", noting that 23,000 Iranian women are registered as football players in the country.

Iranian women have been allowed to attend some men's sporting events.

Syrian women were, however, provided with access to the venue to cheer for the their national team. They were seated in a separate section from the male fans. News site IranWire quoted him last December as telling students during a lecture that the presence of women in stadiums "inevitably" leads to morally corrupt acts. Some of them did not wear a hijab, which is compulsory for all women in Iran, including foreigners.

A group of female fans that had bought the tickets for the game were told they could not enter the stadium.

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