FIFA President, Infantino Wants Saudi-Iran Rift Out Of Football

At the meeting held in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Thursday, President Rouhani pointed to the importance and role of sport, especially football, in vitality, health and close ties between nations, and said, "As the supreme global football institution, FIFA and regional federations must be careful not to let non-sports claims and issues affect sports".

The Islamic Republic has long barred women from attending male soccer matches, based at least partly on the theory that women should not hear male fans swear and curse.

Safai said the women detained at Azadi Stadium on Thursday were trying to watch the match with their male family members, a right that women had before the Iranian Revolution.

Iranian women rights activists said they had hoped Infantino's visit to the stadium would be an opportunity for female football fans to bring their complaints about the ban to his attention.

But no time frame was provided by Rouhani to change the law, and Infantino gave validation of the policy by attending the derby between Tehran men's teams on Thursday with only men allowed into Azadi Stadium.

Iran's influential clergy believes women have no place in football stadiums when men are over-excited and vulgar slogans are shouted.

"The people of Iran, like any other nation, have the right to cheer their teams at their stadiums, and we, as the worldwide federation of football, will try to defend this right", Infantino added.

"I hope that Iranian men, as they have done before, will stand together with women to help them to get their rights back", she said.

Iran's President Says Non-Sports Issues Should Not Affect Sports

Mr Infantino had been speaking to reporters about a two-year dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Infantino also held a meeting with Rouhani later on Thursday.

Iran in the past has ignored requests by Federation Internationale de Football Association to open stadiums to women.

"The solution is always just to play home and away like in every competition in every country", Infantino pointed out, adding: "Obviously the guarantees must be there, the safety must be there". Men and women can not take part in sports together and are not allowed to be spectators at events involving the opposite gender.

Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, a prominent Iranian religious leader, has been one of the strongest supporters of banning women from sporting venues.

"I wish women would gather outside the stadium to ask men not to enter without them".

His visit has seen the OpenStadiums group - a protest movement of Iranian women looking to end the ban - calling him to act.

One female football fan tweeted: "They did not let us in the stadium, took pictures and videos of us and threatened to arrest us".

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