Iranian fan dies; set herself on fire outside court

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

An Iranian woman who tried to enter a soccer stadium - an act that is forbidden for females in the Islamic Republic - burned herself to death after she learned that she could be thrown in jail for six months, according to a new report.

The stadium ban is not written into law or regulation but Iranian women have always been banned from men's soccer matches based at least partly on the theory that females should not hear fans swear.

Khodayari was taken to a Tehran hospital with severe burns, and she died late Monday.

Her story has been followed closely by Iranians around the world who used the hashtag "blue girl" - a reference to the colors of her favourite team, Esteqlal of Tehran.

This was temporarily lifted past year to give women the chance to watch the streaming of World Cup matches from a stadium in Tehran. She was initially charged in March and released from jail after three days and she had waited six months for her trial.

Former Bayern Munich midfielder Ali Karimi - who played 127 matches for Iran and has been a vocal advocate of ending the ban on women - urged Iranians in a tweet to boycott soccer stadiums to protest Khodayari's death.

Iranian-Armenian soccer player Andranik "Ando" Teymourian, the first Christian to be the captain of Iran's national squad and also an Esteghlal player, said in a tweet that one of Tehran's major soccer stadiums should be named after Khodayari "in the future".

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Since there are no written laws barring women from entering stadiums, she was sentenced for not fully adhering to Islamic hijab laws and covering her head.

In response, Iran's Deputy Minister of Sport and Youth for Developing Women Sports and Managing Director of the Girls' Physical Education, Mahin Farhadi-Zad, said the country has no specific deadline but is working on the "necessary infrastructure" to allow women into stadiums, state-owned IRNA reported in July.

Although there is no official ban in place, women in Iran are often refused entry as reported by the BBC. The permission was granted after Gianni Infantino, head of Federation Internationale de Football Association, urged Iranian sport officials to allocate some seats for women.

"We are all responsible", Iranian lawmaker Parvaneh Salahshouri wrote on Twitter, saying that Khodayari "wasn't just the 'Blue Girl.' She was Iran's girl, from a country where men decide what women should or shouldn't do".

Iranian women wait behind the gates of Tehran's Azadi Stadium trying to convince security officers to let them in, November 10, 2018.

Her favorite team responded to her death. 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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