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banner Monday, 5 November, 2001, 16:09 GMT
Irish women to attend play-off
Mick McCarthy
Irish women will be able to watch Mick McCarthy's side
Female Irish fans who travel to Tehran for the second-leg of their teams World Cup play-off with Iran next week will be allowed to attend the game.

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

Crowd noise is also turned down during live television coverage to ensure women viewers at home are not offended.

It is the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution that women will be allowed into an Iranian football match.

"About 300 Irish women fans visiting Iran, will be able to enter the stadium, but Iranian women are not allowed," said an Iran football federation spokesman.

"The Irish do not speak Farsi, so they will not understand the bad language which most of the Iranian men use during the matches."

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy misses the first-leg

The move has caused an angry reaction among female football fans in Iran. They are unhappy at having to miss the chance to attend the 15 November clash.

"I hate this double standard. What is the difference between me and an Irish woman who can watch the game and support her national team," said a female Iranian fan.

"We should be allowed as well."

Iranian women were beaten and turned away from a play-off against Australia for the 1998 World Cup, which Iran won to qualify for the last finals.

The matches will be the first between Iran and Ireland since the two met in an invitational tournament in Brazil in 1972. Ireland won that game 2-1.

About 1,000 Irish supporters are expected to travel to Iran for the second leg of the play-offs. The first-leg at Lansdowne Road is on Saturday.

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