An Iranian female football fan has died a week after setting herself on fire outside a courtroom, after learning she may face six months in prison for trying to enter a stadium, a news agency reported on Tuesday.
Sahar Khodayari’s death immediately ignited an outcry in Iran, where women are banned from football stadiums, although they are allowed to watch some other sports, such as volleyball.
Khodayari, 30, died at a hospital in Tehran on Monday, according to the semi-official news agency Shafaghna. She was known as the “Blue Girl” on social media after the colours of her favourite Iranian soccer team, Esteghlal.
She set herself on fire last week, reportedly after learning she may be imprisoned for trying to enter a stadium, in March, to watch an Esteghlal match. She was reportedly posing as a man and was wearing a blue hairpiece and a long overcoat when the police stopped her.
She spent three nights in jail before being released, pending the court case.
No verdict had yet been delivered in her case. There were reports Khodayari, a computer sciences graduate, had attempted to take her life once before, while in university.
Esteghlal issued a statement, offering condolences to Khodayari’s family.
Former Bayern Munich midfielder Ali Karimi, who played 127 matches for Iran and has been a vocal advocate of ending the ban on women, urged Iranians in a tweet to boycott soccer stadiums in protest at Khodayari’s death.
The Iranian-Armenian soccer player Andranik “Ando” Teymourian, the first Christian to be the captain of Iran’s national squad and an Esteghlal player, said in a tweet that one of Tehran’s major soccer stadiums would be named after Khodayari “ in the future”.
The minister of information and communications technology, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, described the death as a “bitter incident”.
The female lawmaker Parvaneh Salahshouri called Khodayari “Iran’s Girl” and tweeted: “We are all responsible.”