Iranian woman dies a week after setting herself on fire because she was caught trying to sneak into a football match dressed as a man
- Sahar Khodayari, 29, was threatened with six months in jail last week for trying to sneak into a football match in Iran
- She set herself on fire outside court and suffered 90 per cent burns to her body
- Sahar was rushed to hospital but died several days later from her wounds
- Her picture emerged as activists call for end to ban on women attending games
An Iranian women’s rights activist who set herself on fire outside court to protest a six month jail sentence for trying to attend a football match has died.
Sahar Khodayari, 30, suffered burns to 90 per cent of her body after setting light to herself outside a court in Tehran last week when she learned that she may have to go to jail for trying to attend a men’s football match back in March.
She was rushed to hospital but died of her injuries in the early hours of Monday, according to local media.
Iranian women were banned from attending men’s football matches in the country in the wake of the Islamic revolution in 1979.
Sahar Khodayari, 30, died in the early hours of Monday, a week after she set herself alight to protest women being banned from football matches in Iran
Sahar was arrested trying to sneak into a football match dressed as a man back in March, before setting herself alight outside this courtroom last week when she learned she could be jailed for six months
Sahar was first arrested in March this year at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium while trying to attend a match between her favourite team Esteghlal and Al Ain, a team from the United Arab Emirates.
She had tried to sneak into the stadium dressed as a man, her sister previously told Iranian media, but admitted she was a woman when security tried to search her.
Sahar was arrested and taken to jail before being released.
She was charged with ‘improperly wearing a hijab’ and insulting police, and appeared in court early last week when she learned of the potential sentence.
She then set herself alight outside the court. No sentence had been passed.
The case garnered national attention with Sahar dubbed ‘Blue Girl’ on social media in reference to the colour of her team’s kit.
Her sister said that Sahar suffered from biopolar and had attempted suicide once before. Her condition worsened again after she was taken to jail, her sister said.
Activists are calling for Iran to completely remove the ban on women attending games, which has been enforced since the Islamic revolution of 1979 (file image)
On Monday, Sahar’s father confirmed her bipolar diagnosis and revealed that his daughter had dreamed of becoming a police officer but was told she would be unable to because she was a woman.
She then went to university where she earned two bachelor’s degrees in computing and languages, and was still studying at the time of her death.
He confirmed that he had four children – two sons and two daughters – but none of them were into football except Sahar.
Activists are now calling for the ban on women attending men’s matches to be lifted.
Iran has come under pressure from FIFA in recent years to allow women to attend games, as the governing body’s constitution officially bans team from discriminating on the basis of gender.
As a result, Iran says women will be able to attend qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup which are due to take place in October.
However, activists say allowing women into showpiece games is not enough and the ban should be lifted on all matches.