TEHRAN, Iran: An Iranian female football fan has died after setting herself on fire outside a court after learning she may have to serve a six-month sentence for trying to enter a football stadium, a semi-official news agency reported Tuesday.
The death immediately drew an outcry among some football stars and known figures in Iran, where women are banned from football stadiums, though they are allowed at some other sports, such as volleyball.
The 30-year old woman, identified only as Sahar, died at a Tehran hospital on Monday, according to the Shafaghna news agency. She was known as the “Blue Girl” on social media for the colors of her favorite Iranian football team, Esteghlal.
She set herself on fire last week, reportedly after learning she may have to go to prison for trying to enter a stadium in March to watch an Esteghlal match. She was pretending to be a man and wore a blue hairpiece and a long overcoat when the police stopped her.
She then spent three nights in jail before being released pending the court case.
No verdict had been delivered in her case so far. There were reports that Sahar, who had graduated in computer sciences, had attempted to take her life once before, while in university.
Former Bayern Munich midfielder Ali Karimi — who played 127 matches for Iran and has been a vocal advocate of ending the ban on women — urged Iranians in a tweet to boycott football stadiums to protest Sahar’s death.
Iranian-Armenian football player Andranik “Ando” Teymourian, the first Christian to be the captain of Iran’s national squad and also an Esteghlal player, said in a tweet that one of Tehran’s major football stadiums will be named after Sahar, “once, in the future.”
Female lawmaker Parvaneh Salahshouri called Sahar “Iran’s Girl” and tweeted: “We are all responsible.”