Iranian female soccer fan 'blue girl' dies after setting herself on fire

An Iranian woman who dressed as a man to watch a soccer match sets self on fire after learning she may face prison time

An Iranian woman who dressed as a man to watch a soccer match sets self on fire after learning she may face prison time

Iranian women were banned from attending men's football matches in the country in the wake of the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Federation Internationale de Football Association said it was "aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it".

A 29-year-old football fan died after setting herself on fire while protesting against the stadium ban.

Sahar Khodayari's favorite soccer team was playing on a spring night in Iran's capital, Tehran, and she chose to sneak into the city's main stadium for a glimpse. According to media reports, the hearing was canceled, but when Khodayari went to retrieve her cellphone, which had been confiscated by court authorities, she overheard officials say that she could serve a minimum sentence of six months.

According to her sister, Sahar was already suffering from bi-polar disorder and her mental health had deteriorated when she was locked up.

The semi-official Shafaghna news agency reported today that a 30-year-old woman identified only as Sahar died at a Tehran hospital.

Khodayari was discovered, arrested and detained.

Sahar was pretending to be a man and wore a blue hairpiece and a long overcoat when the police stopped her.

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However, she was arrested on the charge of "improperly wearing hijab" and jailed for three days before being released on bail.

Iranian-Armenian footballer Andranik "Ando" Teymourian, the first Christian to be the captain of Iran's national team and also an Esteghlal player, said in a tweet that one of Tehran's major football stadiums will be named after Ms Khodayari, "once, in the future". The conservative Shafaqna news agency acknowledged her death in a brief item Tuesday, noting that the case had drawn worldwide attention and caused "counterrevolutionary media" to cry over the case.

Iran's ban on women being allowed to enter stadiums has been a point of contention in Iran for decades.

"We are all responsible", Iranian lawmaker Parvaneh Salahshouri wrote on Twitter, saying that Khodayari "wasn't just the 'Blue Girl.' She was Iran's girl, from a country where men decide what women should or shouldn't do".

"The stadium ban is not written into law or regulation but is ruthlessly enforced by the country's authorities", wrote Mindy Worden, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

The reported death sparked an outcry online, where many using the hashtag #blue-girl called on world football's governing body Fifa to ban Iran from competitions.

While a small number of Iranian women have attended select global matches on previous occasions, others have faced prosecution for entering stadiums at other times.

However, that has drawn criticism from human rights activists overseas, as well as at home.

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