Iranian village rewards women for attending football

Clerics say women must be protected from the masculine atmosphere

TEHRAN - Women in a remote Iranian village not only attend football matches but last week received awards for their attendance, local media reported on Tuesday.
The conservative Sobh-e No newspaper said the prizes were handed out to women after a veteran's match last week in the village of Shahijan, which has a population of just 209, in the southern Bushehr province.
Clerics have banned women from attending football matches in Iran, saying they must be protected from the masculine atmosphere, though the ruling is frequently criticised from across the political spectrum.
"A dear grandmother had taken part in all the games as a spectator," said veteran player and former village chief Ali Omrani, according to the newspaper.
"She came up with her walking stick to receive her award and all spectators stood up and gave her a round of applause for several minutes.
"If those who oppose the presence of women in stadiums had been there, they would change their minds," he added.
Shahijan has reportedly been letting women into its stadiums for over a decade, ever since all the women in the village came out to watch a final.
"Since then, instead of having a merely manly event, we have a human event. We feel it is the demand of all Iranian people for restrictions to be removed," said Omrani.