Iranian Woman Sets Self on Fire After Stadium Arrest

After potentially facing prison after attending a soccer match disguised as a man, Sahar Khodayari died by suicide after setting herself on fire. FIFA is now under pressure over women being banned from sports events in Iran.

Blue Girl puts pressure on Iran

Sahar Khodayari was an Iranian woman. She went to a soccer match. She was arrested. She then set herself on fire. Iranian women’s rights activist Sahar was only 29 years old. She dressed like a boy to sneak into a stadium in Iran, where women are banned. She was stopped by security forces to do a body search. At that moment, she said, “Don’t touch me, I am a woman.” She got arrested and the official media announced that her arrest was for wearing an inappropriate hijab and arguing with the security forces. She went in front of the court and as soon as she found out that she has to go to prison for 6 months, then she set herself on fire and she died in hospital.

“I really, really hope that something positive will happen, now that we have paid with our blood, now that we’ve gone to prison… I hope that this will bring some good to us. But I say that FIFA is complicit in this crime. FIFA is complicit with Iran. FIFA claims that it puts pressure on Iran, but that isn’t true. If it wanted to put pressure, it wouldn’t allow the championship to be held in Iran, it would forbid Iran from playing, it would bar Iran from all the international competitions,” Iranian activist Zeinab Sahafi pleads.

Zeinab was one of the first Iranian women to disguise herself as a man to get around the ban. Zeinab left Iran in August 2019. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian women have not had the right to attend men’s soccer games — even though there is no formal prohibition written into the law. In 2018, a petition was launched to allow women to enter the stadiums. The prohibition was lifted temporarily in 2018 so women could participate in the broadcast of World Cup games.