For 1st time in decades, Iran women allowed to watch FIFA soccer match in Tehran

Iranian women have just watched a FIFA soccer match kickoff after being freely allowed into a stadium for the first time in decades.

Iran faces Cambodia in the 2022 World Cup qualifier being held Thursday at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium.

But the match has taken on even greater importance after Iran, facing pressure from the world soccer body, allocated 4,000 tickets for women. They had been banned since 1981.

Authorities provided special security and female police officers for the match.

The decision follows the death of a young woman who set herself on fire after hearing she could face prison time for sneaking into an Iranian soccer match disguised as a man.

Iran is the world’s last nation to bar women from soccer matches. Saudi Arabia recently began allowing women into soccer matches.

Iranian women cheer as they arrive at Azadi Stadium in Tehran on Thursday. (Vahid Salemi/Associated Press)