RIP Sahar Khodayari
This is the text of a letter Women in Football President, Bonita Mersiades, has today written to the Chairman of Football Federation Australia, Chris Nikou.
I am writing on behalf of the committee of Women in Football Australia Inc in relation to the recent tragic death of Sahar Khodayari, a young football fan in Iran.
As I am sure you are aware, Ms Khodayari died after setting herself on fire after learning she may face six months in prison in Iran for trying to enter a stadium to watch a game of football, which women are banned from doing.
It is unacceptable that women are not permitted to enter a football stadium, and reprehensible that Ms Khodayari was placed in jail after her recent arrest for doing so, directly leading to the tragic circumstances of her death.
The ban by the Iran FA is in contravention of Articles 3 and 4 of the FIFA Statutes, and we believe that there is no basis on which Iran’s continuing membership of either FIFA or the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) should be tolerated as long as this ban continues.
The FIFA President gave a deadline of 15 July this year for the Iran FA to set out what it would do to ensure that women could attend the October World Cup qualifying match against Cambodia. To date, they have failed to do so.
This ban has now been in place for 40 years; FIFA’s human rights policy has been in place since 2016; the Iran FA has had ample opportunity to address this matter.
If Iran fail to address this issue permanently by October, and if FIFA and/or the AFC fail to impose sanctions on Iran, then we believe that FFA should implement its own boycott of Iranian football until and unless they permit women into stadiums for both domestic and international matches in accordance with contemporary Australian values. To quote the Governor-General, David Hurley, ‘The standard you walk past is the standard you accept’.
Photo of Esteghlal FC by: Vahid Salemi/AP