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FIFA Human Rights Panel Urges Tough Line On Iran’s Ban Of Female Fans

Several hundred mostly selected women were allowed to watch the Asian Champions League final in Tehran this month.

The FIFA Human Rights Advisory Board has called on the soccer body to set a deadline for ending Iran’s ban on women attending male sporting events.

"FIFA should be explicit" giving the Iranian soccer federation a timetable to comply, and should warn of "anticipated sanctions if it does not," the FIFA-appointed human rights experts said in a report published on November 26.

Soccer stadiums in Iran have been off-limits for women for much of the 39 years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Conservatives have claimed that the ban on women attending major men's sporting events protects them from hearing crude language and seeing male athletes wearing revealing uniforms.

Rights activists have blasted the ban as an example of gender discrimination in the Islamic republic.

This month, several hundred mostly selected women were allowed to watch the Asian Champions League final in Tehran. Most of them were said to be relatives of players, members of women's teams, or football federation employees.

The match was attended by Gianni Infantino, the president of soccer's world governing body FIFA, who said he was "delighted to personally" see Iranian female football fans inside the stadium.

The FIFA Human Rights Advisory Panel said in its report that Infantino had raised "the issue of discrimination against women in connection with football" as a central topic in his meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rohani.

Rohani had promised "positive developments on this matter in the near future," the panel said.

In the board's annual report, FIFA says it will extend the eight-member panel's mandate through 2020.

The expert group points to "consistent progress that FIFA is making across a range of issues," and plans to focus its next report on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

With reporting by AP