Iranian government criticised as women stadium entry deadline looms

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A few hundred female fans were allowed into the Azadi stadium to watch a match in 2018Iran’s government has been criticised for failing to guarantee women can attend official football matches as the new season kicks off.A deadline looms from Fifa – football’s world governing body – for Iran to lift its long-standing ban on women’s entry to the country’s stadiums.Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said procedures were being worked out to allow women to attend national team games.”Social issues need to be resolved considering cultural principles and the existing regulations,” he said.The sports minister has made it clear that, for the time being, women may only be allowed to attend national games at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium. Crackdown on ‘bearded girls’There is mounting criticism over what has been described as the government’s “indifference” to the recent arrest of a number of female fans who had attended matches – mostly last season at the Azadi Stadium – disguising themselves as men.A growing number of Iranian women have been dressing up as men so they can support their favourite clubs, despite the ruling Islamic establishment banning them from going to games.They have been referred to as “bearded girls” and, more recently, the ‘Azadi (Liberty) Girls’.Activists have

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