Watching soccer in Tehran

Did you know that, for the past 38 years, women in Iran haven’t been allowed to attend men’s soccer matches? I didn’t, though I wasn’t surprised to learn that this is the case.

The ban was finally lifted yesterday, for Iran’s second World Cup match. At the last minute, the government decided to admit women to the Azadi Stadium in Tehran to watch a broadcast of the Iran-Spain match, played in Russia.

As far as I can tell, Fox, which is broadcasting the World Cup in the U.S., did not report the ban, which extended through Iran’s first match, or the lifting of it. I know this wasn’t mentioned during the Iran-Spain match.

During that match, the Fox broadcast team kept referring to the Iranian squad as “Team Melli.” That’s the warm and fuzzy sounding name by which the team is marketed.

It means “national team.” But how truly national is a team whose matches half the population could not attend for decades?

The ban on women attending men’s soccer matches is a window into the sickeningly barbarian nature of the Iranian regime. Arguably, it should have been sufficient reason to ban Iran from participating in the World Cup (since the revolution, Iran has participated in 1998, 2006, 2014, and this year).

Accordingly, it seems to me that calling the team “Iran” should suffice. There is no reason to use a pet name, and certainly none to use it repeatedly.

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