Iran will allow a limited number of women (mainly family members of national team players) to watch the Volleyball World League games in Tehran later this month, a senior government official told the Associated Press. It is a move initiated by moderate President Hassan Rouhani´s government, for a gradual change to allow women and children to attend men’s sporting events. The issue made international headlines last year when a British-Iranian woman was detained after trying to attend a men’s volleyball game. Vice president for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi, a member of Rouhani’s cabinet and a women’s right activist, said the government hopes to avoid a showdown with hard-liners over the issue. She said that women will be allowed into stadiums to watch men’s matches in specific sports such as volleyball, basketball, handball, and tennis, but still won’t be allowed into soccer, swimming and wrestling matches. “If it practically happens a few times, the concerns will be completely removed and it will be proven that allowing women to watch men’s sports matches is not problematic,” she said. Women have been banned from attending games since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, even though foreign women are allowed to attend matches of their national teams. Senior clerics oppose women attending sporting events because male athletes often wear revealing clothing, and the fans in the crowd sometimes shout obscene chants.
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