TEHRAN: A female Iranian football fan who set herself on fire last week after being arrested for sneaking into a stadium dressed as a man has died from her injuries, causing widespread outrage.

The semi-official Shafaqna news agency said the woman — 29-year-old Sahar Khodayari dubbed “Blue Girl” online for her favourite team Esteghlal’s colours — died at hospital on Monday after her self-immolation outside a court where she feared being jailed for six months.

Iranian women have been banned from stadiums when men’s teams are playing since just after the 1979 Islamic revolution, though foreign women have been allowed limited access.

Khodayari’s death shocked Iranian officials and the public, becoming an immediate hashtag trend across social media in the Islamic Republic and triggered calls for an end to a ban on women attending matches.

It also comes as FIFA is working with Iranian authorities to overcome a ban on women entering stadiums for men’s games. FIFA wants the issue resolved before October 10 when Iran, the top-ranked team in Asia, host their first home World Cup qualifier against Cambodia.

FIFA said Tuesday it was “aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it”. “FIFA convey our condolences to the family and friends of Sahar and reiterate our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran,” FIFA said in a statement.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2019

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