Iranian female football fan facing prison dies after lighting herself on fire 1 week ago

Iranian female football fan facing prison dies after lighting herself on fire

"Her death must not be in vain."

An Iranian female football fan facing punishment for attempting to illegally enter a soccer stadium has died.

Sahar Khodayari lit herself on fire outside of the court in Tehran last week after it was reported that she could be imprisoned for trying to enter the city's Azadi stadium.

The 29-year-old had attempted to enter the venue dressed as a man in March. Iran has an unofficial ban on women accessing football stadiums.

BBC News reports that Khodayari died from her injuries this week. Her case had yet to receive a verdict.

Women have been banned from entering football stadiums in Iran since 1981, however they are permitted to watch other popular sports active in the country.

Khodayari has been dubbed on social media as 'The Blue Girl', referring to the support of her team, Esteqlal of Tehran.

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East research and advocacy director, has called Khodayari's death "heartbreaking."

“Her only ‘crime’ was being a woman in a country where women face discrimination that is entrenched in law and plays out in the most horrific ways imaginable in every area of their lives, even sports," he said.

“To our knowledge, Iran is the only country in the world that stops and punishes women seeking to enter football stadiums.

“This discriminatory ban must end immediately and the international community - including football’s world governing body, FIFA, and the Asian Football Confederation - must take urgent action to end the ban and to ensure that women are allowed access to all sports stadiums without discrimination or risk of prosecution or punishment.

"Her death must not be in vain. It must spur change in Iran if further tragedies are to be avoided in the future."

FIFA previously set a deadline of 31 August to allow Iranian women into all football stadiums. An agreement had yet to be met.

"We are aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it," they said.

"FIFA convey our condolences to the family and friends of Sahar and reiterate our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran."