Iranian women score in soccer match ban

If you're a woman in Iran match days means heading to your local shopping mall to catch the game.

They're forced to follow their national soccer team outside the stadium.

(SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) SOCCER FAN, ATIYEH, (ONE NAME ONLY GIVEN), SAYING:

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"They do not let us inside the stadium. But we were so good like this today, inside the shopping center. Men did not say anything improper at all, and we were all together, all fine, watching the match."

While they can sit alongside men and watch on a screen the ban on them entering football stadiums for men's soccer matches has been once again thrust in to the spotlight, after the death this month of a female fan who set herself on fire in protest at her arrest for attending a match.

Dubbed "Blue Girl" after her favorite team's colors she had tried to attend disguised as a man.

Iran is under pressure from soccer's governing body FIFA to change its stance, and it may be starting to work.

Here's what a government spokesman told a recent news conference.

(SOUNDBITE) (Farsi), IRANIAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN, ALI RABIEI, SAYING:

"Our upcoming game is with Cambodia, and women will be present. Their presence will increase step by step."

The move is seen as a first step towards opening national games to women.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's chief of staff said last week that women would be allowed into stadiums if foul language in chants and sporadic violence was curbed.

He said the sports minister was tasked with trying to improve the atmosphere from a "moral standpoint," echoed in the view of one woman.

(SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) MRS TEYMOURI (NO OCCUPATION, NO FIRST NAME PROVIDED), SAYING:

"I do not agree, because it has very negative aspects, and I think the grounds are not proper places for women to go."

Still, women have campaigned on this for years and despite the death of Sahar Khodayari it's an issue they'll keep fighting for.

And, it seems the Iranian authorities might be ready to play ball.

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