More than 3,000 Iranian women have crammed into a special section of a Tehran stadium to watch a World Cup qualifier against Cambodia, after they were allowed to buy match tickets for the first time in four decades. Fifa and human rights campaigners increased the pressure on Iran’s sports authorities to let women into games after the death of a fan last month. Sahar Khodayari, 29, set herself on fire outside a stadium after learning she might face six months in jail for trying to sneak into a match, reportedly disguised as a man. Apart from a few token groups at three international matches, women have largely been banned from matches since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The tickets for Thursday’s Iran-Cambodia match sold out within minutes, even after authorities quadrupled the number on sale. Those lucky enough to get tickets included a sports reporter who said she was shaking with excitement. It was still a meagre provision, accounting for less than 5% of seats in the … [Read more...] about Thousands of Iranian women watch football match for first time
Womens world cup qualifiers
This weekend the best Fortnite players in the world gathered at Flushing Meadows in New York to compete in the game’s first ever World Cup Finals for $30m (£24m) in prize money. Tens of thousands of spectators packed the famed Arthur Ashe stadium to watch the action live, and many millions more viewed on Twitch and YouTube. Fortnite is, after all, one of the biggest entertainment brands on the planet, played by hundreds of millions. Amid all the hype and fanfare around the finals, however, one depressing fact remained unavoidable: not a single one of the 100 finalists was female. Despite the growing popularity of professional gaming throughout the world – the audience figures for competitive gaming have reached 450m this year – female competitors remain scarce. There certainly are high-profile examples of female pros – trans woman Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn is one of the most successful Starcraft II players in the world; Katherine … [Read more...] about Not one of the Fortnite World Cup’s 100 finalists was a woman. Why?
An Iranian female football fan has died a week after setting herself on fire outside a courtroom, after learning she may face six months in prison for trying to enter a stadium, a news agency reported on Tuesday. Sahar Khodayari’s death immediately ignited an outcry in Iran, where women are banned from football stadiums, although they are allowed to watch other sports, such as volleyball. Khodayari, 29, died at a hospital in Tehran on Monday, according to the semi-official news agency Shafaghna. She was known as the “Blue Girl” on social media after the colours of her favourite Iranian soccer team, Esteghlal. She set herself on fire last week, reportedly after learning she may be imprisoned for trying to enter Tehran’s Azadi (freedom) stadium, in March, to watch an Esteghlal match. She was reportedly posing as a man and was wearing a blue hairpiece and a long overcoat when the police stopped her. She spent three nights in jail before being released, pending the … [Read more...] about Iranian female football fan who self-immolated outside court dies
The two Koreas meet on Tuesday in Pyongyang, where officials will hope that this World Cup qualifier ends in a better fashion than the last. The abiding memory of the Seoul game in April 2009 was the eternally glum North Korea coach Kim Jong-hun striding into the post-match press conference flanked by two minders. Taking no questions, the trenchcoated tactician accused the hosts of poisoning his players and then stormed out, pushing bewildered South Korea FA officials out of the way. There was a much more positive atmosphere in the qualifier that had been scheduled to be held in Pyongyang a few months earlier. With the two countries technically still at war, Dear Leader Kim Jong-il moved the home tie to Shanghai as the prospect of seeing the flag of the south flutter and its anthem ring around the stadium named after his (and the nation’s) father Kim Il-sung was a bit too much. The game in China was an emotional affair with fans from both sides of the 38th parallel in fine voice. … [Read more...] about South Korea make historic North Korea visit but without their fans
Top story: ‘Drastically increased’ penalties for crime Good morning and welcome to this Monday briefing with Alison Rourke. Violent criminals and sexual offenders will face drastically harsher penalties to be laid out in the Queen’s speech this morning, as the government sets out its legislative agenda. Law and order will top the bill, including “drastically increased” penalties for foreign nationals who breach deportation orders. No 10 hopes it will wrestle the spotlight from this week’s delicate Brexit negotiations and set the stage for a general election that few in Westminster think will be long in coming. But it’s hard to see how any speech, from the Queen or not, will divert from this week’s political drama, with some EU capitals concluding over the weekend that it may now be impossible for the UK to leave the EU by 31 October with a deal. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told diplomats last night that Boris … [Read more...] about Monday briefing: Johnson sets out election stall in Queen’s speech