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News Article

Female football fans in Iran 

Muslim women football fans are a minority

Women football fans in Iran are a small but dedicated fanbase. A recent study published in Soccer & Society, found that while women feel 'empowered' by following a male football club in the league, they experience difficulty with access to support their club in comparison to more western leagues.

In Iran women follow strict etiquette and religious codes, including laws which ban women from entering sporting stadiums. Often women football fans are marginalized and underrepresented in media coverage of football.

To overcome this Iranian woman, who are football fans, have created a digital fandom on social media, complete with virtual stadiums.

Across the world female football fans have always had to battle against gender stereotypes to follow their clubs. Previous studies conducted in Denmark and Sweden have even documented how women football fans have experienced violence and intimidation on their path to follow their football club.

The researchers noted that Iranian women feel under pressure to constantly validate themselves as fans of football to get accepted by male football fans. Other respondents in the study reported that male fans became verbally aggressive or reinforced gender stereotypes when their teams were losing.

Iranian women are not only subjected to the typical gender stereotypes experienced by female football fans the world over, but also strict gender roles through a religious lens, especially since the  Islamic revolution in 1978. 

However, this is changing, while the state still has laws in place excluding women from selected sporting events, the culture of the country is more inclusive with women football fans feeling safer to disclose their passions.

Those interviewed in the article have expressed how intimidated they were when younger when following male football leagues, and now as the culture has shifted in society during their lifetimes, women and girls are freer to watch football and enjoy the sport. 

Women and girls are educated separately from boys, which often leads to limited exposure to football. However, in recent times more sports coaches and teachers are introducing football to girls and creating fans of the sport.

To read more on female fans and participants in football use this search: ("women" or CC:UU500) and (soccer or football)


Zahra Termeh Eskandari (2022) ‘We support football in our heart’: female football fandom in Iran, Soccer & Society, 23:3, 258-270, DOI: 10.1080/14660970.2022.2037208


Article details

  • Author(s)
  • Jess Thay
  • Date
  • 24 March 2022