TEHRAN: Just as women fans were told a small number would be allowed back in the national stadium for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against South Korea so their hopes were dashed.

Instead the tie will be played without any fans at all, according to an announcement from the Iranian federation, without any explanation.

FIFA had been pushing for years for Iran to open its stadia to women but, until 2019, Tehran had allowed in only a limited number for a handful of matches.

The last occasion on which women fans attended the Azadi stadium, in October 2019, was a qualifier against Cambodia.

Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iranian women have been consistently denied access to stadia, officially to protect them from male misbehaviour.