Her dream was to look at a soccer match from a stadium in Iran the place ladies are banned from attending most sports activities occasions.
For this straightforward dream she paid together with her life.
Sahar Khodayari, 29, died in a hospital in Tehran this week from extreme burns that lined 90 % of her physique. She had set herself on fireplace in entrance of a courthouse on Sept. 2, after being sentenced to 6 months in jail.
Her crime was sneaking into Azadi Stadium, Tehran’s important sporting venue, in March to look at her favourite workforce, Esteghlal, play in opposition to a workforce from the United Arab Emirates.
Ms. Khodayari was arrested and spent three nights in jail. Her cell phone was seized. She was launched on bail and advised to report back to Revolutionary Court docket in September.
Blue is the colour of the Esteghlal workforce, and as information unfold that considered one of its feminine followers had set herself on fireplace, Ms. Khodayari turned recognized on social media because the “Blue Lady.” The hashtag #BlueGirl sprung up, bringing consideration to the plight of feminine soccer followers.
In dying, Ms. Khodayari’s title has turn into a world rallying cry for Iran to finish its discrimination in opposition to ladies and permit them entrance to sports activities occasions.
Many Iranians, together with a former captain of the nationwide workforce, are calling for a boycott of soccer video games till the ban on ladies attending matches is lifted. A number of officers expressed shock and outrage at what occurred to Ms. Khodayari.
“Some points could be resolved merely however we flip them into deep social scars for which we’ve got no reply to historical past,” mentioned Fareed Mousavi, a lawmaker on the parliament’s youth committee. “We have to rectify these unjust discriminations earlier than it’s too late.”
Masoumeh Ebtekar, President Hassan Rouhani’s vp for girls and household affairs — the best rating girl within the Iranian authorities — issued an announcement expressing “deep remorse and unhappiness” for Ms. Khodayari’s dying. She mentioned her workplace had appointed a consultant to observe the case since information of the burning surfaced, and mentioned the consultant had met with the mom and sister of the sufferer within the hospital.
Ms. Ebtekar mentioned a written report on the case had been submitted to the judiciary on Saturday, and the subject of permitting ladies in stadiums was mentioned in a cupboard assembly on Sunday.
The information of Ms. Khodayari’s dying unfold on Monday, however some Persian information media retailers reported that she had died a number of days earlier and was secretly buried with out informing the household. Iran has a protracted follow of denying the relations of individuals deemed a “safety risk” their useless our bodies and conducting secret burials to keep away from publicity.
Iranian activists say Ms. Khodayari’s household has been threatened and pressured to not communicate to the information media.
FIFA, worldwide soccer’s governing physique, has warned to Iran to carry the ban on ladies attending worldwide soccer matches by Oct. 10, when the nation’s nationwide workforce — among the many high in Asia — is to host a World Cup qualifying sport.
In some circumstances, to alleviate stress from FIFA, Iran has selectively allowed restricted variety of ladies, largely family of gamers or authorities officers, to attend sure soccer video games. However ladies usually are not allowed to purchase tickets for the occasions.
“They’re mainly attempting to control FIFA,” mentioned Omid Memarian, deputy director of the Middle for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based advocacy group. “Regardless that FIFA has been notified of Iran’s repeated violations and manipulation techniques to permit ladies in, nonetheless Iran has gotten away with this discrimination.”
After Ms. Khodayari’s dying, FIFA mentioned in an announcement, ”We’re conscious of that tragedy and deeply remorse it.”
Within the assertion, the group mentioned it repeated its “calls on the Iranian authorities to make sure the liberty and security of any ladies engaged on this reputable battle to finish the stadium ban for girls in Iran.”
Nonetheless, many Iranians and human rights activists on Tuesday blamed FIFA for not taking a stronger stand in opposition to the ban. Worldwide soccer stars tweeted that FIFA ought to step up and implement its rules banning member nations from discriminating in opposition to gender and race.
Magdalena Eriksson, a soccer participant for Chelsea F.C. Girls, a British soccer workforce, wrote on Twitter: “FIFA or every other group that’s able of privilege and energy, it is advisable act to make this cease!”