Credit: Screen grabs
Iranian Woman Jailed for Going to Men’s Soccer Game Sets Herself on Fire and Dies

Iranian Woman Jailed for Going to Men’s Soccer Game Sets Herself on Fire and Dies

An Iranian woman who was potentially facing months in prison for trying to sneak into a soccer game dressed as a man in March died Monday after setting herself on fire last week.

The 29-year-old woman, Sahar Khodayari, doused herself in gasoline and ignited her body outside Tehran’s Ershad courthouse on Sept. 2 after learning she could be imprisoned for six months, The Associated Press reported, citing Iranian state news website Rokna.

She died Monday at a Tehran hospital after suffering burns on 90 percent of her body, according to The AP.

Khodayari was known as “Blue Girl” for disguising herself as a man with a blue hairpiece and trying to sneak into Tehran’s Azadi Stadium to watch Tehran’s soccer team, Esteghlal, play the UAE’s team, Al Ain.

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She was caught by guards, however, while attempting to sneak into the stadium and imprisoned for three days because women are not allowed to attend men’s sporting events in Iran ever since the country’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Khodayari was released on bail and waited six months before showing up to court for her trial and being notified that the judged pushed the date back until further notice due to a family emergency.

Khodayari then reportedly set herself on fire outside the building after overhearing someone saying she could be tried by a Revolutionary Court in Iran and be jailed for up to six months, the BBC reported.

“The stadium ban is not written into law or regulation but is ruthlessly enforced by the country’s authorities,” Human Rights Watch Director of Global Initiatives Mindy Worden said, according to EPSN.

In October 2018, the country allowed women to attend a men’s soccer game at Azadi stadium for the first time since 1979, but they were placed in a sectioned-off area away from male fans. Most of the women were members of the Iranian federation and members of the women’s national team.

FIFA said it was “aware of that tragedy and deeply regret[s] it” in a Tuesday statement. The soccer organization has been calling on Iranians to boycott the ban before Esteghlal’s Oct. 10 game against Cambodia, The AP reported.

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“FIFA convey our condolences to the family and friends of Sahar and reiterate our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran,” the statement continued.

Khodayari’s sister said she had bipolar disorder, and her father told reporters that she stopped taking medication a year ago, according to The AP.

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Cover image: Sahar Khodayari. (Screen grabs)



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