Football: Women of Tehran storm stadium in defiant mood

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The Independent Online

Tens of thousands of ian football fans, including women who ignored an official order banning their presence, packed Tehran's Azadi stadium on Tuesday to welcome home the national squad, who qualified for next year's World Cup finals last weekend.

An estimated 70,000 flag-waving fans, with about 3,000 young women in their midst, cheered their team. Observers said the women rushed through gates despite police attempts to enforce a ban on female fans attending the event. Once inside, they were seated in separate stands from the male fans.

State radio and television earlier read a statement by the ian Football Federation saying women would not be admitted into the stadium.

"In view of the lack of suitable space and in order to safeguard Islamic dignity, sisters will be strictly prevented from entering the Azadi stadium," the statement declared. "Sisters can witness the fervent ceremonies [on live television] at home."

In 1994 briefly suspended the ban on women going to football stadiums, which dates back to the 1979 revolution which toppled the Shah. But the authorities reimposed the ban after a few weeks following protests by conservative Islamist newspapers, which said the women's presence was at odds with norms of contacts between the sexes.

ian football administrators have said that the ban was partly prompted by the "immoral" language and behaviour of some fans, which they claimed made football games unsuitable as family outings.

Meanwhile, despite Valdeir Vieira's success in steering to the finals, it looks as though he will be replaced as coach soon.

According to the president of the ian football federation, Dariush Mostafavi, the Brazilian "was appointed as a temporary coach, and we are looking for a new coach."

Vieira had just been appointed as 's Olympic team coach when he took charge of the national team after the former coach, Mohammad Mayeli Kohan, was sacked last month.

"After the huge celebrations we owe it to our people to raise our standards," Mostafavi said. He named Johan Cruyff and Carlos Bilardo, the former coach of Argentina, as possible targets.


Away from the World Cup, club football continues as "normal" in South America.

A horrendous tackle by the Argentinian international midfielder, Sergio Berti, marred the first leg of the South American Supercup final on Thursday as Argentina's River Plate held on for a 0-0 draw away to Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Berti raised his left foot and kicked the Sao Paulo midfielder Alexandre in the genitals early in the second half. He was instantly sent off by the otherwise tolerant Chilean referee, Mario Sanchez.

"That was criminal," the former Brazilian international Rivelino, who was commentating for television, said. "If he [Berti] had hit Alexandre's knee, he would have crippled the lad."