Iran to probe horrific death of female football fan

Iranian Esteghlal FC club fans cheer during their AFC Champions League football match

However, police arrested her after an altercation and detained her.

But a deep distrust in the government and the ruling establishment means that many Iranians do not think that even the painful death of a young woman could shake the country's decision makers.

Sahar Khodayari, an Iranian female soccer fan known as "Blue Girl" for the colors supporting of the Esteghlal team, died after setting herself on fire after learning she may serve a six-month prison sentence for trying to enter a soccer stadium where women are banned, a semi-official news agency reported Tuesday.

Sahar was suffering from bipolar disorder and her time spent in jail made her condition worse, her sister reportedly told Iranian outlet Rokna in an earlier interview, HRW said.

Khodayari appeared in a Tehran court last week, when the case was adjourned.

Sahar Khodayari's favorite soccer team was playing on a spring night in Iran's capital, Tehran, and she chose to sneak into the city's main stadium for a glimpse.

Parvaneh Salahsouri, a reformist lawmaker, said Sahar was "Iran's girl".

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As a result, Iran says women will be able to attend qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup which are due to take place in October.

The case has led to a debate in Iran about the decision to bar women from men's soccer matches and prompted several celebrities and sports stars to speak out.

However, local matches have continued the restriction.

The judiciary's Mizan Online website said a young woman had been arrested when she tried to enter a stadium and faced charges of offending "public chastity and insulting" law enforcement officers. This is despite the fact that previous year President Hassan Rouhani promised Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, during a Tehran visit that women would soon be granted full entry into stadiums.

The ban on women in stadiums is not written into law or regulations, but is "ruthlessly enforced", said Human Rights Watch, calling it a "clear violation of the rules in FIFA". "A day when even if we are not around, our grandchildren will remember what a hard path we went through to achieve our most basic human rights".

Amnesty International separately said that as far as it knows, "Iran is the only country in the world that stops and punishes women" seeking to enter soccer stadiums.

"What happened to Sahar Khodayari is heart-breaking and exposes the impact of the Iranian authorities' appalling contempt for women's rights in the country", said Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director. Saudi Arabia, a longtime holdout, recently started allowing women to attend matches under a push from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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