Iranian women were briefly delighted when they find out they were allowed to buy tickets for the Fifa World Cup qualifier against Syria, they have had their hopes dashed again after it happened that tickets had only been made available to female fans by mistake.
The Iranian and Syrian football teams will go head to head at Tehran’s Azadi stadium on Tuesday night. To the surprise of many, there was an option to purchase ‘women’s tickets’, which lots of fans snapped up when the tickets went on sale on Saturday.
Since 1979’s Islamic Revolution, men and women have not been allowed to take part in sports together or attend most games involving the opposite gender.
“I was extremely excited… it was unbelievable,” football fan Arefeh Elyasi told reformist daily Shahrvand as news of the sales quickly spread on social media.
Some women who weren’t even followers of the sport still bought tickets, feeling that being able to attend a men’s sporting fixture was “a major event”.
However, the dream was over by Monday, as the Iranian football federation blamed a “technical glitch” for the sale of women’s tickets.
“There is no plan to allow the presence of women in Azadi stadium for the Iran-Syria match,” it said in a statement, adding that all tickets bought by women would be refunded.
The Iranian men’s team almost forfeited the chance to play in the 2018 World Cup in Russia in October last year after its Group A qualifying match against South Korea clashed with Tasua, two holy days of mourning in the Shia calendar.
Clerics demanded that the date was changed but Fifa turned down a request to move it forward claiming that South Korea would not have enough time to recover from their previous match against Qatar.
The decision compelled clerics to demand the match be cancelled outright, or else Iran’s football team should refuse to play.
The match took place in the event and Iran won 1-0.