WOMEN IN FOOTBALL: The Ahmadinejad Decree

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

On This Day In 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a controversial decree lifting the 17-year ban on women attending football matches. Over the years, supporters of the ban have justified it as protecting women from the rowdy behavior that often accompanies football matches. Women repeatedly fought the ban, which was imposed as part of the 1979 Islamic revolution, even to the point of fighting with police stationed at stadium entrances. They also occasionally were able to sneak into matches disguised as men. Tensions reached dangerous heights in March 2006, when security personnel for a match at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran attacked dozens of women who had bought tickets and tried to enter the stadium.

He claimed that the presence of women would help to tone down the behavior at matches. Since then, women have gained some freedom, however, and are now allowed to play football in the Western Asian country, although they must do so while adhering strictly to the Islamic dress code that forbids them from showing any hair. An engineer and teacher from a poor background, Ahmadinejad served as the sixth president of Iran from 2005 to 2013.

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