A number of Iranian women were allowed to attend match of the Volleyball World League in Tehran on Friday.
Although female fans are traditionally barred from attending male-only sporting events in Iran, more than 450 Iranian women were able to attend Friday’s match between Iran and Serbia at the Azadi Sport Complex in Tehran.
According to ABC News network, it was unclear if the women were members of the general public or invited guests and VIPs.
FIVB released a statement noting that the Iranian federation said Friday’s matches sold out within five minutes, and that 466 of the 5,000 tickets were allotted for a section set aside for women.
From the moment tickets became available, the website for sales said the female allotment had been filled, according to several women who say they tried to purchase tickets.
Iran rallied to win Friday’s match against Serbia in five sets before a wildly enthusiastic standing-room only capacity crowd of 12,000. The home team faces Italy on Saturday.
Eighth-ranked Iran qualified for its first Olympic tournament as one of the 12 teams set to play in Rio de Janeiro this August.
“It is important to emphasize that this is a first step of a long-term campaign to reinstate female spectators at volleyball events in Iran and one which the FIVB is 100 percent committed to,” FIVB said in a statement.
“Our policy is one of engagement and diplomacy to secure inclusion through sport not through the threat of isolation. While we understand that volleyball alone can’t enforce change, we appreciate that we have a significant platform for creating dialogue and the FIVB will continue to strive for sport’s power as an agent for positive change to be fully realized.”
In June 2015, Shahindokht Molaverdi, Iran’s vice president for women and family affairs, raised hopes among women and activists who continue to campaign for access to the country’s sports stadiums when she told the Associated Press that some women would be allowed into the stadiums for the FIVB World League matches
Photos Credit: Iranian news agencies Irna, Isna and Mehr