We like to tell ourselves that football is the world’s game — a game that erases boundaries and creates an atmosphere welcoming to all. The reality is obviously far from that, as football is merely an extension and a reflection of the very society it is situated in.
Consequently, football is inebriated with the racism, sexism, and all other sorts of discrimination that exist in our communities. This was made viscerally apparent in the recent racist attacks on Lukaku, where Inter’s ultras amazingly concluded that what had happened inside their stadium wasn’t “real” and somehow separate from the “actual racism” that occurred in society (I’m paraphrasing, here).
But it couldn’t be more real for the victims of such attacks, something that can sadly be seen in Iran, where Sahar Khodayari, a 30-year-old woman, died after self-immolation outside of a courtroom. She had been arrested for attempting to enter a football stadium disguised as a man.
New CD Tacon signing and star Swedish forward Kosovare Asllani spoke out on this matter on Twitter, begging FIFA to take action.
I have a platform and I have never been afraid of raising my voice when in need.This is a tragedy and it can’t continue anymore. @FIFAcom it’s time to act and not be silent.WE need to help the women of Iran fight against gender apartheid.This is about human rights!#SaharKhodayari https://t.co/UE4r071Niv— Kosovare Asllani (@KosovareAsllani) September 10, 2019
Her call to action follows ones made by numerous others, including fellow Swedish international Magdalena Eriksson. Voices within Iranian football have also expressed disapproval for the ban in the past, with Iranian national team captain Masoud Shoajei being one of the most prominent figures to speak out.
Iran’s government recently made “improvements” by lifting their gender ban on international matches, but club games remain exclusive to men.
Such a measure obviously stands against the global, inclusive ideal that is football — one that we are far from reaching but one that we must strive to attain. That can only happen when prominent figures like Asllani use their platforms to initiate change.