Last Wednesday (30) news spread around the world that 2,000 women were barred from entering the Emu Reza area in Mashhad city to follow the match for the final round of the Asian Cup Qualifier between Iran and Lebanon . World. Even though he bought tickets, he was greeted with pepper spray, and could not make it to the venue (remember here) controversy, which has been going on since 1981, when the Islamic Revolution determined the ban, involves political, religious and constitutional issues.
The revolution ended the Shah’s monarchical rule, which had focused on the figure of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi since 1941, and the country became an Islamic republic, combining democratic and anti-religious elements. The biggest figure in the movement was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the first person to rule a post-monarchical country. “The Ayatollahs lead the religion, politics and customs”, explains Matthias Souza, an internationalist and doctoral candidate in administration at the Federal University of Bahia (Ufba).
The change directly interfered with the way of life of the women who lived under the Shia Strand – the group that coordinated the revolution – of Islam. The ban on watching men’s football matches was ordered as a justification to protect them from the “male environment” and in view of the “semi-naked” men.
However, at present the issue is not so simple. For example, the constitution of Iran provides for equal rights for men and women. “Two thousand women paid for the ticket. In addition to the religious issue, there is an institutional and legal one. He claimed that there would be no guarantee at the stadium venue that women would be provided with a suitable place to watch matches with men. At the same time, you have legislation that should make this access possible”, says Mathew.
Nevertheless, there is a stereotype about the Islamic religion that, according to the internationalist, needs to be fought. “Just as there are differences between Shias and Sunnis, between Muslims and Christians, there are also some within the Shia strand who are a little more radical and who are more progressive. (…) It is not religion itself. [que proíbe as mulheres de assistirem a partidas de futebol], but something more traditional and radical. The same Shia strand that made the revolution embrace the more traditional, so it’s happening”, he explains.
Since 1981, the women have been able to use the stadium to watch only three games of the Iran men’s football team: in October 2019, for Iran vs Cambodia; In October 2021, for Iran v. South Korea; And for Iran vs Iraq in January 2022.
The release came after pressure from FIFA, which threatened to suspend the selection, which would prevent it from playing in the 2022 World Cup. Performance by an outside actor, that is FIFA. FIFA is far from being an example of a clean organization, but it is an interesting construction from this point of view. She may not be a sanskritisation agent from Iran or any other country, but she helps to meet the demands of women of Iranian society”, evaluates Matthias.
However, last Wednesday’s handicap should not lead to a football ban on Iran. According to FIFA the country should be in the World Cup (Look here), and found its key this Friday (the first). Selection is in Group B with England, the United States and an opponent to be defined by the European playoffs (Wales, Scotland or Ukraine).
After the episode, Mashhad governor Moshen Dawrim apologized. “I apologize that many people were unable to enter the stadium and closely watch the football match between the teams of Iran and Lebanon,” he said in an interview with Iranian TV station IRIB.
In Matthias’ view, the attitude itself represents an attempt by political leaders to dismantle the radical orthodoxy of Shiites.
“There is another point which is interesting, which has to do with international politics. That’s tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia – another power pole in the Middle East, of Sunni origin, who rivals. There they dispute spheres of influence, each defending their own aspects of the religion. With a view to projecting the country’s image, about the positive points of a Shia Iran, in this logic of power-place dispute, news like this in the week of the World Cup draw, a video that went viral, all this undermines the purpose. Iran’s strategic role to present itself as a model of a non-secular state, a theocracy followed by other countries. Iran and Saudi Arabia dispute this. From a geopolitical and strategic point of view, I see an effort to change”, he says.
Iran made its World Cup debut against England on 21 November.