Let Them Inside

In Iran, women are not allowed in stadiums to watch football. For years, this has triggered many protests, worldwide, in almost every international match of an Iranian national team in any sport.

But in the past few days, Ali Karimi - probably Iran's best ever player - has criticised the stadium ban on women. The former Persepolis' playmaker, who also won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, and now coaches Naft Tehran, showed his support in the struggle to women watch the sport. 

Karimi is the second football figure to criticize the Iranian government over the ban, after Masud Shojaei, the national team captain, personally asked President Rouhani to lift the ban on female fans - in order to support "Team Melli" in their last World Cup qualifier against China.

Few years back a movie has been done on the subject. 'Offside' was a great success showing what is happening to women when trying to sneak in a national team match in Tehran. The movie's director, Jafar Panahi, was later charged for six years in jail and a 20-year ban on directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media and more.

The struggle to remove the ban from female fans in Iran is far from over, but these comments by official and famous football figures is making an impact on public opinion - in Iran and worldwide. 

Now the pressure is on Rouhani and the ayatollahs, who see this ban as a tool to protect the Islamic religious life in and decency in Iran.