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Iranian Women Can Still Celebrate Despite Team's World Cup Loss

Iranian female soccer supporters were given a rare opportunity to cheer their team on at a special live transmission in Tehran of their country's World Cup game with Spain on June 20.

Iran's soccer team suffered a defeat on June 20, but women in the country still had reason to celebrate after they were allowed to attend a sporting event at a stadium for the first time in nearly 40 years.

The World Cup match, which resulted in a 1-0 loss to Spain, took place in the Russian city of Kazan, but Iranian women were able to attend a public viewing of the game in Tehran's Azadi Stadium.

"That was the real big victory," women's activist Tajebeh Siawoshi was quoted by Iranian news agency ISNA as saying on June 21.

Officials said the lifting of the ban on women in stadiums was only for the match against Spain.

But activists have expressed hopes that it could lead to a total lifting of the ban.

"If all goes well, this could be a prelude to the general lifting of the women's stadium ban,” Siawoshi said before the match.

Women in Iran have been banned from entering stadiums since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

'So Much Fun'

Clerics in the conservative Muslim-majority nation have said it is immoral for women to attend matches with male fans and athletes.

But after domestic and international protests against the policy heightened during the World Cup, Iranian authorities reversed policy and allowed women to access the stadium in family sections to watch the match against Spain.

However, uncertainty remained until the last minute. Police attempted to cancel the viewing, claiming "infrastructural deficiencies," according to a report by Thomson Reuters.

Police relented after the Interior Ministry gave instructions to allow spectators into the stadium.

"I did not know that it was so much fun to roar for two hours and be close to a heart attack," a woman fan wrote on Twitter after viewing the match.

A previous planned showing for Iran's opening match against Morocco was canceled at the last minute without a reason being given.

So far, Iran has won one game and tied one in the World Cup and will next next face Portugal in Saransk on June 25.

Iran's 1-0 victory over Morocco in their first game was just its second-ever victory at a World Cup.

With reporting by Thomson Reuters Foundation, INSA, and dpa
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