The FIVB World League pool taking place in Tehran, Iran this weekend doesn’t have any tickets available for purchase by women – and may not have ever offered them, according to news reports.
Iran will host Pool D1 this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That pool will feature Iran, Serbia, Argentina and Belgium. The Women’s Committee of the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran) reports that tickets for the event in Iran are split between men and women, and that women will not be allowed into the arena with men’s tickets, and vice versa. That’s per an event website that also says all women’s tickets have been sold out.
Meanwhile another NCRI report from last October says that the sold-out message appeared from the very moment tickets went on sale, suggesting that women’s tickets were never available to the general public. This earlier NCRI report cites a screenshot of the event site taken “at the precise moment tickets went on sale for the Iran-Serbia match.” The NCRI piece goes on to cite another report suggesting that women’s tickets were instead reserved for “wives of the officials of the Iranian regime or female officials, Iranian female athletes, and in some cases, the wives of foreign diplomats.”
Iran has a troubled history of female spectators at sporting events. Women have been forbidden from attending soccer games since the Islamic revolution of 1979, and just a few weeks ago, a woman was arrested after trying to sneak into a soccer match disguised as a man, according to Al Arabiya.
Back in 2014, a woman was arrested for staging a protest outside of a volleyball game demanding to be allowed into the stadium. She was originally charged with “propaganda activities against the regime,” and though the charges were eventually dropped, she still spent six months in prison.
And in 2016, Iran hosted a men’s beach volleyball tournament on Kish Island. When the FIVB announced that Iran would host the event, the federation said that “the event will be open to fans from all age groups and genders.” But when the event started in February of 2016, reports said women were turned away from attending the match by security personnel. The FIVB later said that there was a “misunderstanding” with security workers, but that the misunderstanding was addressed and women were eventually allowed into the match.
Then at the Rio Olympics, an activist held up a banner at a volleyball match calling for Iran to lift its ban on female spectators at volleyball events. The banner said “Let Iranian women enter their stadiums.” The woman was asked to leave the stadium by security staff under the IOC policy banning political statements at sporting events.
The FIVB World League matches in Iran will run from Friday through Sunday, with two matches each day.