Statement by Lewes Football Club on the death of Sahar Khodayari, Iran’s “Blue Girl”
11th September 2019
In March, Sahar was arrested when trying to enter a stadium to watch her team, Esteghlal of Tehran. In Iran, women have been blocked from entering stadiums to watch men play football – the most popular sport in the country – since 1981.
Last week, Sahar set herself alight on the steps of the courthouse upon hearing that she could be imprisoned for two years for having attempted to watch this football match. She later died of her injuries.
Lewes FC is shocked and saddened that the stadium ban, which contravenes Article 4 of FIFA’s statutes which states that discrimination against women “is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion” has led to the wholly unnecessary death of a female football fan. Football’s power is that it brings together and unites people of all genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages, socio-economic backgrounds. A stadium ban targeting any group undermines the fabric of football. It is outrageous that the Iranian authorities should make football divide instead of uniting.
FIFA should immediately mandate that the Iranian Football Federation permit any and all women, beyond family members, into stadiums to watch games or subject the body to immediate sanctions.
Iranian authorities must immediately cease the repeated arrests of female fans for attempting to enter stadiums.
Lewes FC General Manager, Maggie Murphy, said, “Football is a reflection of society; it is more than just a game. Sahar should never have taken her own life, because it should never have been the case that football could be used as a space to discriminate, harass and intimidate. Lewes FC sends deepest condolences to her family, friends and the wider Open Stadiums movement.”
As a mark of respect, Lewes FC will be temporarily turning its club badge blue on Twitter.