Female football fan who set herself on fire dies in hospital

By Mirror: Wednesday, September 11th 2019 at 11:38 GMT +3 | Football

A football fan who set herself on fire in protest at not being allowed into a game has died in hospital.

The woman, who has now been named as Sahar Khodayari, was detained by police last week while trying to get into the match in the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran.

Sahar, 30, disguised herself in a long overcoat and with blue facepaint attempting to see her favourite team, Esteghlal.

Women are prohibited from watching men's football games in the strict Muslim theocracy.

Sahar, who was nicknamed Blue Girl due to her disguise, spent three days in custody before being released pending a verdict on her case.

When she returned to the police station to get her phone back, officers explained that she may yet be jailed.

Get the latest sports news updates. Subscribe to our SMS sports service by texting 'SPORTS' to 22840.

It was then that she doused herself in petrol and set fire to herself, causing burns on 90% of her body.

Despite the efforts of doctors, Sahar - who had been on life support - she died from her injuries yesterday.

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research and Advocacy Director, said “What happened to Sahar Khodayari is heartbreaking.

“Her only ‘crime’ was being a woman in a country where women face discrimination that is entrenched in law and plays out in the most horrific ways imaginable in every area of their lives, even sports.

“To our knowledge, Iran is the only country in the world that stops and punishes women seeking to enter football stadiums.

“Amnesty International believes that Sahar Khodayari would still be alive if it were not for this draconian ban and the subsequent trauma of her arrest, detention and prosecution for attempting to circumvent it.

"Her death must not be in vain. It must spur change in Iran if further tragedies are to be avoided in the future.”

Masoud Shojaei, captain of the men's national football team, posted a message of support to his 400,000 Instagram followers.

  "As we are shocked by old limitations set for women, the future generations will be astonished to (find out) that women were banned from entering sports arenas in our time," he wrote. 

"The origin of such limitations is the rotten and disgusting thinking of the past, and will be incomprehensible for the next generation."

Since 1981, Iran has banned female spectators from football and other stadiums, Human Rights Watch reports.

The stadium ban is not written into law or regulation but is ruthlessly enforced by the country’s authorities.

Prior to the Islamic revolution of 1979, women were allowed to attend sporting events.

Banning women from watching live soccer matches is against regulations set by the International Football Federation FIFA.

In protest of the prohibition some woman dress up as men and post photos of themselves inside the stadium on social media.

For More of This and Other Sports Stories Subscribe to the Standard Epaper