By Brian Bariyo Tumuramye
Iran: An Iranian woman known as the “Blue Girl” set herself on fire after being handed a prison sentence for trying to enter a soccer stadium. Her death sparked outrage on social media, with some calling for a stadium boycott.
A 29-year-old woman protesting against Iran’s ban on women being allowed in soccer stadiums died of her injuries after setting herself on fire.
The woman, identified as Sahar Khodayari, doused herself in petrol and set herself on fire outside a court last week after learning she’d been handed a 6-month prison sentence for trying to enter a stadium.
Khodayari, who was also known as the “Blue Girl,” tried to enter a stadium in March to watch her favorite Iranian soccer team, Esteghlal.
She had disguised herself as a man, donning a blue hairpiece and long overcoat.
Khodayari was arrested and initially released on bail, but her six-month prison sentence was confirmed again last week. Pictures of the woman covered in bandages at the hospital were shared widely on social media.
Iran’s judiciary has been asked to investigate her death, state media later reported.
“Her family received a warning and is not allowed to talk to the media anymore,” Maziyar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian journalist and filmmaker who is in contract with Khodayari’s family, told DW. “Sahar died on Friday and the security services buried her immediately.
The authorities told her family: ‘Your daughter has caused us enough trouble already; we don’t want to hear anything more from you.’ Her relatives have been severely intimidated.”
Pressure put on FIFA ahead of World Cup
Mindy Worden, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch said, the fan’s death underscores “the need for Iran to end its ban on women attending sports matches — and the urgency for regulating bodies like FIFA to enforce its own human rights rules.”,FIFA’s human rights policy adopted in May 2017, specifies and strengthens the organization’s commitment to “respecting all internationally recognized human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights.” Iran, the top-ranked team in Asia, hosts its first home World Cup qualifier against Cambodia on Oct. 10.
FIFA has been putting more pressure on Iran to allow women into stadiums since at least June, when the press reported on a letter sent by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, the organization is now feeling increasing pressure from fans around the world as #BlueGirl trends on social media platforms and users call for action Infantino asked for a timeline earlier this summer from the Iranian Football Federation detailing what steps it planned to take to “ensure that all Iranian and foreign women who wish to do so will be allowed to buy tickets and to attend the matches.”
Former Bayern Munich midfielder Ali Karimi played 127 matches for Iran and urged a boycott of stadiums on his Instagram, Iranian-Armenian soccer player Andranik “Ando” Teymourian tweeted that a stadium should be named after Khodayari.