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Iran fear Cup ban over excluding women

The Iranian football federation fear they could be banned from the World Cup in Qatar later this year after women were prevented from attending their 2-0 qualifying victory over Lebanon.

Originally the sports ministry had made 2,000 tickets available to women for Tuesday’s game but they were prevented from entering.

“We’re hearing worrying news from (global football governing body) FIFA and the AFC (Asian Football Confederation),” FFI board member Mehrdad Seradschi wrote on Twitter.

Should a ban come into place, “then those involved in the bitter incident in Maschad are responsible.”

The final qualifier did not take place in the Iranian capital Tehran as usual but took place instead in the religious city of Maschad in the north of the country.

Police reportedly used pepper spray when protests start from the women who had tickets but were not allowed to watch the match.

Observers believe religious hard-liners in Maschad acted unilaterally without consulting the FFI.

Women were excluded from games in Iran for decades following the revolution but under pressure from FIFA a small number of tickets have recently been made available to them in the Asadi Stadium for World Cup qualifiers and Champions League matches.

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