In the past, women in Iran were permitted to attend some male volleyball and basketball games. In 2014, however, they were banned from entering sports stadia to watch men's volleyball. Mehr file photo

October 21, 2017 Iran’s Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council is set to discuss the issue of allowing women to attend events at sports stadiums.

Zahra Ayatollahi, the head of the Women’s Social and Cultural Council, has said this could be a positive step towards easing the current restrictions imposed on female sport enthusiasts. “Sport stadiums should make the necessary changes in order to create a safe environment for female fans to attend matches,” she said.

The Women’s Social and Cultural Council operates under the auspices of the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council. It, has, however, been given the authority to make a ruling about the admission of women to sporting stadiums. Whatever the outcome, it is not clear exactly how much legal weight the council’s ruling will carry.

Speaking of the council meeting, Ayatollahi said: “We heard a wide range of opinions on the issue. During the course of the meeting, it became clear that this was a complex and complicated matter with many dimensions. It is not easy to make a decision about it. There are many sides to the argument.” Ayatollahi, however, said she believed that the council would reach a decision by next week.

According to Ayatollahi, the council discussed women team sports and the number of female spectators that each game could bring to a stadium. It also reviewed the logistics of games that attract a large number of men and women. “Experience has shown that some men do not behave appropriately after a match. These post-game disturbances could injure both innocent men and women,” Ayatollahi argued.

She added: “We must create a safe environment for women to attend the games, including appropriate stands, means of transportation, and better access to and from the stadium. We must make certain that women would not be in harm’s way if the crowd were to become unruly and violent.” 

Ayatollahi said the council also debated whether women should be allowed to attend games where male players do not wear uniforms or clothing that covers most of their bodies. The council will inform the relevant authorities of its final decision in the near future.