Scotland Wales Northern Ireland

You are in: You are in: Football: World Cup 2002  
Front Page 
FA Cup 
Eng Prem 
World Cup 2002 
Champions League 
Uefa Cup 
Worthington Cup 
Eng Div 1 
Eng Div 2 
Eng Div 3 
Eng Conf 
Scot Prem 
Scottish Cup 
CIS Ins Cup 
Scot Div 1 
Scot Div 2 
Scot Div 3 
League of Wales 
Rugby Union 
Rugby League 
Other Sports 
Sports Talk 
In Depth 
Photo Galleries 
TV & Radio 
BBC Pundits 
Question of Sport 
Funny Old Game 

Around The Uk

BBC News

BBC Weather

banner Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 07:28 GMT
A man's game in Iran
Irish fans in celebratory mood
Irish fans are renowned for their good behaviour
Iran's Islamic regime means Ireland's female fans may be segregated and forced to observe a strict dress code for their country's World Cup play-off in Tehran.

Journalist Nicola Byrne, of the Observer newspaper, is one of 20 Irish women who have been allowed into Iran to watch the match.

She will be one of the first female fans to be officially be allowed to watch football in Tehran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Some of the male fans have said they may don headscarves on Thursday in solidarity with the Irish women fans
Nicola Byrne

Earlier this week, however, reports in an Iranian newspaper claimed the government had changed its mind and would not allow the Irish party access to the game.

But Byrne said: "The Iranian football authorities have since said that is not the case.

"But there is a strict dress code in Tehran for women and they have to wear a long coat, long trousers, and keep their heads covered.

"It's not clear whether they will be able to stand with the Irish male fans.

"But the indication at the moment is they will be segregated into a small pen - which is called a VIP pen by the Iranian Football Association.

"Some of the male fans have said they may don headscarves on Thursday in solidarity with the Irish women fans, which is quite nice."

Robbie Keane's strike gave the Republic a 2-0 lead to take to Tehran
Robbie Keane scored a crucial second goal in the first leg

Byrne said she was viewed with curiosity in Tehran, especially as a female sports journalist.

"Several members of the Iranian FA have advised me that perhaps the stadium on Thursday night isn't the best place for a woman to be.

"They have suggested I would be far happier staying in the hotel and watching the match on TV, but I don't really think so."

She added that the Irish contingent in Iran were respecting local customs, including the ban on alcohol.

"They are behaving themselves very well - I met a group earlier who had spent the day in a museum, which is a bit unusual for Irish football fans, but there you are.

"I don't think the FA of Ireland is unduly concerned about potential protests by the Iranian fans after the game.

"They are protesting about the system in place in Iran, and their anger is not really directed at the opposing fans or team.

"So we're not anticipating any trouble and fingers crossed, that's the way it will stay."

Observer journalist Nicola Byrne
"Women will be allowed into the stadium now"
Other top World Cup 2002 stories:

Links to more World Cup 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend
^^ Back to top