FIFA Must Act On Iran
As Halloween is a little over a month away, the footballing world will be keenly watching to see how Iran’s horror story unfolds in October.
With the appalling self-immolation of Sahar Khodayari (Blue Girl) sending shockwaves through the world, the time is fast-approaching to see if FIFA act on their threat of removing Iran from the official international football community if they do not admit women into their stadiums.
Do we have reasons to be hopeful? Would it make any palpable difference to the women of that country if they do?
To the latter question, the short version is ‘no.’
No, it would not make a single bit of difference to women’s rights in the country. If a country is so adamant that football stadiums are not suitable for women, to the extent of excluding themselves from official international football, then it will not change anything in the short term.
To put into context what we are dealing with here, the Islamic Republic Prosecutor-General, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, said on Saturday that "FIFA's pressure is another calculated plot by the enemies."
He has argued that FIFA have no legal authority in Iran. Which is, of course, true. However, Iran have signed up to FIFA & this includes adhering to their laws, rules & regulations. As part of their charter, the world’s governing body state that any form of discrimination is prohibited. And it is based on this that they are threatening to kick Iran out.
The governing bodies, from UEFA to our own F.A., constantly put out messages about football being an equal game. But now FIFA have an opportunity to enact real change.
Basically - if you don’t treat people equally within our realms then you’re out.
It is fantastic. What a chance to do something good here.
It is time to show the world that, whilst football is so important to so many people’s lives, it is not worth dying over.
This is bigger than football. It is societal, it is international & it speaks about how we want to treat women as the century wears on.
Sahar Khodayari must become an anomaly. She must represent a time when things were so messed up that anyone would kill themselves because they were facing prison simply for attending a football match.
She must represent the past and not the future.
She must be the catalyst for change that Iran so desperately needs. For anyone who loves football, we implore FIFA to do the right thing and kick out Iran unless immediate & lasting concessions toward admitting women into their stadiums are made.
Because anything else is simply not good enough.
Words by J.S. Leatherbarrow. Artwork by FATC staff. All rights reserved.