Iranian Woman Sets Herself on Fire Over Fear of Jail For Going to a Soccer Game

تماشاچیان تیم فوتبال استقلال در ورزشگاه یادگار امام قم

An Iranian woman, known as “Blue Girl,” who set herself on fire to allegedly protest the jail sentence she received for attempting to watch a football game, also suffered from bipolar disorder, according to her family.

Sahar Khodayari, 29, passed away at a hospital in Tehran on Sept. 9, a week after setting herself ablaze in front of a court in the Iranian capital.

Khodayari faced charges for “appearing in public without a hijab” and “insulting officials” when she attempted to enter Tehran’s Azadi Stadium in March, according to Amnesty International.

The 29-year-old was hoping to watch an AFC Asian Cup match between her favorite team, Iran’s Esteghlal, and the United Arab Emirates’s Al Ain, when security guards discovered that she had dressed as a man.

Image via Twitter

Iranian authorities have banned women from entering stadiums for men’s games since the country’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, according to the Guardian.

However, because there are no written laws that explicitly place such a ban, Khodayari was instead charged for violating hijab laws, Al Jazeera noted.

Khodayari, who was released on bail after being detained for several days in March, was summoned to a Revolutionary Court in Tehran on Sept. 2 to face her charges.

After learning that she could spend up to six months in jail, she doused herself with petrol and set herself on fire outside the court.

Image via Twitter

Khodayari, who sustained burns across 90% of her body, relied on a respirator until her death on Monday night.

Speaking to Shahrvand, a pro-reform newspaper in Iran, her sister revealed that she suffered from bipolar disorder, the Associated Press noted.

On the other hand, her father, Heidar Ali Khodayari, described her condition as a “neurological disorder,” adding that she did not sacrifice herself for any cause.

“My daughter had a neurological disorder and that day she became very angry, insulting and fought with law enforcement officials,” Mr. Khodayari told Iranian news agency Mehr, according to Gulf News.

Image via Twitter

Khodayari, who wore a blue wig at the time of her disguise, was known as “Blue Girl” on social media, with users in and out of Iran paying tribute.

Open Stadiums, a local women’s advocacy group, pressured FIFA to take action.

Female lawmaker Parvaneh Salahshouri honored Khodayari as “Iran’s Girl” and declared, “We are all responsible.”


According to Reuters, FIFA President Gianni Infantino sent a letter to the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) in June requesting a timeline that would result in women being able to buy tickets for World Cup qualifiers, which began on Sept. 5. It’s unclear whether the FFIRI has replied.

“We are aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it,” FIFA said about Khodayari’s death, according to CNN. FIFA convey our condolences to the family and friends of Sahar and reiterate our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran.”

Feature Image via Mostafameraji (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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