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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 14:28 GMT
Irish women 'can attend' Tehran game
RoI v Iran
The Republic of Ireland hold a 2-0 advantage over Iran
The Iranian Embassy in the Irish Republic has said it does not foresee problems for Irish women travelling to Thursday's World Cup Play off in Tehran.

Iranian women are banned from attending football matches in the country to protect them from the bad language and rude gestures of male fans.

There had been fears that Irish women would not be allowed entry to the crucial game in the Iranian capital following comments made by the deputy Tehran governor on Tuesday.

However, First Secretary Amir Miri told BBC Radio Ulster that there should not be any problems for female fans gaining entry to the game.

Japanese, Korean and Chinese teams managed to settle everything and enter their female fans into the stadium before

Amir Miri Iranian embassy

"There were not too many Irish female fans who applied for visas from our embassy, however all of them received their visa in due time.

"I don't think they may face problems to enter into the stadium," he said.

"We have records of women's participation in matches at the stadium, for example Japanese, Korean and Chinese teams managed to settle everything and enter their female fans into the stadium before."

A spokesman for the Iran Football Federation said that about 300 female fans from Ireland would be allowed into the stadium but that Iranian women would not.

Confusion arose when reports carried in Tehran's conservative newspaper suggested the Irish women would be turned away from the stadium.

'Fierce reactions'

The city's deputy governor, Shahrokh Jahanshahi, was quoted by the paper on Tuesday as saying that "the presence of these women in the stadium has been ruled out".

The news followed a report in the paper on Monday that the trip by a group of Irish women to Iran had been cancelled.

The report added that the presence of women from the Irish Republic may prompt "fierce reactions" from influential clerics in Iran's holy city of Qom.

However, an official from the Irish embassy in Tehran said no information had been received to suggest Irish women would be denied entry to Thursday's game.

"This is the first we are hearing of it," the staff member told the press agency AFP.

"If it is true, it would be big news, because many of them are coming."

The Republic of Ireland defeated Iran 2-0 in the first leg of the play off in Dublin on Saturday.

Iran must now prevent Mick McCarthy's team from scoring a crucial 'away goal' and secure a victory on home soil if they are to prevent the Irish from pogressing to next summer's World Cup tournament in Japan and South Korea.

A crowd of 110,000 is expected to turn out for Thursday's game.

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