Iran’s Male Football Fans Respect Women Spectators, Official Says

The presence of women at sports stadiums encourages good manners and civil behavior among male spectators, Reza Salehi Amiri, the president of the National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has said.

Mr. Amiri made the remarks during the weekly “Dast-e Khat” interview program on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcast’s channel five  (IRIB TV5) on May 24.

“Sports stadiums do not differ from any other public venues such as universities, cinemas, parks, and concerts,” Amiri explained. “As with all forms of artistic and cultural events, sports games are also celebrations. Experience has shown that men are at their best behavior when there are girls and women at sports matches.”

Amiri added: “Some senior officials believe that the presence of women in sports stadiums could prompt some men to misbehave. However, I have attended two events [football matches] with Japan, where male fans were polite and well mannered. In our culture, men always respect and protect women at large gatherings.”

“The International community accuses us of discriminating against women. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is an utter lie,” Amiri argued. “Following the Imam’s [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s] explicit instructions and under the guidance of the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei], the Islamic Republic has consistently recognized and respected the status of women in Iranian society.”

Amiri pointed out: “Iranian women are in public life and pursue a wide range of professional careers and occupations. The Islamic Republic does not discriminate against women. However, the subject of women spectators at sports stadiums always comes up during our discussions with foreign officials. Therefore, we must end the misconception that allowing women to attend sports events in large stadiums will somehow prompt men to become rude and unruly.”

“Iranian female athletes have distinguished themselves in international competitions. Sheikh Fahad Al-Sabah, the president of the Olympic Council of Asia, has said that all sports should accept the hijab. Iran pioneered the hijab in sports. By wearing the hijab, our female athletes uphold Islamic values, making the Iranian nation proud. It will undoubtedly have a massive impact on all sports.”

Amiri is a member of the pragmatic-centrist Moderation and Development party. Before his appointment as the president of the Olympic Committee of Iran in 2018, Amiri served as deputy Mayor of Tehran for social affairs (2017-18), president of the National Library of Iran (2014-17), Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance (2016-17) and acting Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs in 2013.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]