TEHRAN: Australian Moya Dodd has stood four-square behind the campaign to allow women to attend men’s football matches in Iran – and has done so in the capital, Tehran, itself writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Dodd, one of three women on the executive committee of world federation FIFA, was speaking in support of similar comments by Sepp Blatter, president the world federation.
Iran has banned women from attending men’s matches since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
Blatter was on a two-day visit to Iran during a Middle East trip which will take in a visit to the new Emir of Qatar – host for the 2022 World Cup – and Friday’s final of the FIFA World U-17 World Cup in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Dodd – lawyer, business woman and former international footballer – told her audience at Iran’s Second International Congress on Football and Science: “We [women] We are important consumers of football. We enjoy watching a game as much as anyone. It’s a fantastic game to watch.
“Before I arrived here in Iran and since I arrived here I’ve heard from many women who have expressed their concern that they can’t attend live matches and have expressed to me a strong desire to attend matches. I’ve been contacted by women via social media, via email and even the woman sitting next to me on the plane raised it as a concern.”
She accepted that “local laws must be respected” but looked forward to the day “when we could, together, attend a top football match in Iran.”
Dodd added: “When that day comes I hope you’ll tell me because I would love to attend and attend a top match with you and with my women football colleagues from this country.”
Earlier Blatter had met President Hassan Rohani who expressed his approval for Blatterˈs efforts to promote football among Muslim women in international football matches by enabling the observance of an Islamic dress code.
Blatter, in reply, acknowledged that FIFA was sensitive to developing football among women in the developing and Muslim countries.
However, at a press conference later he used a question about the international introduction of the headscarf to press further the case for women spectators.
Blatter, who had opened the congress, said: “The headscarf is one thing in women’s football in the culture of the Muslim countries. They play football everywhere, women’s football is even played in Saudi Arabia in closed [areas] … I had the opportunity this morning to speak with the lady Vice-President and to ask her in the government they should try to change one of the cultural rules here so that women can attend football matches, and I repeated this just now with the Speaker of the Parliament.
“This is also something of women’s football.
“You have developed so much women’s football here, that it should say that women also can go to the stadium.
“We cannot intervene to change the laws, but as the president of FIFA, and a defender of women’s football in the world, and a defender of women’s football in Islamic countries, I had to present this plea to the political authorities.”
Iran’s men team have qualified for next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil and the country will host the 2019 Asian Cup. It also has ambitions to stage the Asian and World Cup Futsal and Beach Soccer events.