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(CNN) - Iran's qualifying match for the World Cup against Cambodia on Thursday will be a historic moment for the country, as women will be able to officially enter a football stadium for the first time in decades.
The initial allocation of 3,500 tickets for sports fans quickly sold out, reportedly in less than an hour, before an additional 1,100 were released for the match at Azadi National Stadium.
"This is a hugely historic moment for Iranian football, but also for Iranian women who protested against [the risk of] being caught and almost certainly sent to Evin prison, the famous prison for political prisoners in Tehran," he said. author and writer James Montague to CNN.
“All eyes are on Tehran to see if this really happens. I was in Tehran last year when 30 women were arrested outside the stadium and Gianni Infantino was in the stadium to see the Tehran derby when that happened, ”Montague added, referring to FIFA's president.
"Therefore, everyone is aware of this problem, but, of course, with problems like this, the concern is that they may have sold 3,500 tickets for women, but there will be multiple people outside trying to enter."
“It is a very changing situation and at the last minute it could change, so that everyone is waiting, holding their breath and hoping that Iranian women can finally see the national team play a football game in their home country for the first once in 40 years. ”
Iranian sports journalist Raha Pourbakhsh shows electronic tickets purchased for the Iran vs. World Cup qualifying match. Cambodia.
'Discriminatory, deceptive, dangerous'
Iran's ban on women attending sports stadiums is not written in the law, but was established shortly after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. FIFA President Infantino recently called the ban "unacceptable" and urged the authorities to lift it before the next round of qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.
According to the Fars News Agency of Iran, women will be separated from men and monitored by 150 women police officers. The photos on social networks showed that fences were placed around sections designated for women only.
While Thursday's game marks a step forward for Iranian women watching football matches, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the limit of 4,600 fans "discriminatory, deceptive and dangerous."
"The effective 5% quota in women's seats contravenes FIFA's constitution, statutes and human rights policy," said the organization. "Article 4 of its statutes states that discrimination against women is strictly prohibited and is punishable by the suspension or expulsion of the FIFA member."
When asked if these conditions really meet their statutes that prohibit gender discrimination, FIFA told CNN: “FIFA's position on women's access to stadiums in Iran has been firm and clear: we must allow women to enter soccer stadiums in Iran. For all football matches. "
“In line with our position, we are working to ensure the safe access of women to the qualifier for the FIFA World Cup tomorrow between Iran and Cambodia. We reaffirm our position that the number of women in the stadium must be determined by the demand for such tickets, without any arbitrary limitation being imposed.
“More details will be given on the next steps that will be implemented to guarantee the future access of women to the stadiums in Iran once we have made an exhaustive evaluation of Thursday's game based on the contributions of the FIFA delegation that is present in Tehran. "
The Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI) was not immediately available for comment.
On Tuesday, Iranian Twitter users began using the hashtag #WakeUpFIFA, urging the governing body of world football to allow more women to attend the qualifying match against Cambodia.
Iranians in Iran are tweeting with #WakeUpFIFA hoping that @FIFAcom could ensure that all women who want to watch the Oct. 10th game can attend the stadium. Government has capped the seats for women at 3500. @ HRW thinks the cap is discriminatory & dangerous.https: //t.co/K1qJ3agCg6 https://t.co/CovCbdLdiE
- Tara Sepehri Far (@sepehrifar) October 8, 2019
In recent months, FIFA has been under increasing pressure to force Iran to revoke its ban on women entering sports stadiums, particularly after the death of Sahar Khodayari, a fan who set himself on fire after that he was denied access to a football stadium in Tehran
Nicknamed the "Blue Girl" on social media by the colors of her favorite Iranian soccer team, Esteghlal, Khodayari was accused of "openly committing a sinful act" by "appearing in public without a hijab" when she tried to enter a stadium " dressed as a man ”in March, according to the human rights group Amnesty International.
Khodayari appeared in a court in Tehran earlier this month. When the case was closed, gasoline was poured on itself and set on fire. He died on Monday, September 9.
James Masters contributed to this news