Iran’s “Blue Girl” Dies After Self-Immolation Protest of Her Arrest for Attending Soccer Match

HeadlineSep 13, 2019

In Iran, a woman who set herself on fire to protest her arrest for trying to attend a soccer match has died of her injuries. Sahar Khodayari was jailed for three days in March after she disguised herself as a man and tried to enter a Tehran soccer stadium. When Khodayari discovered that she faced up to two years in prison, she self-immolated outside a courthouse in Tehran. Her protest left her with burns on 90% of her body, before she succumbed to her injuries on September 8. Iran has no written laws barring women from soccer stadiums, but Human Rights Watch says a de facto ban is “ruthlessly enforced” by authorities. Sahar Khodayari’s death drew widespread outrage by Iranian social media users, who gave her the nickname “blue girl” after her favorite team’s colors. Her death also drew protests against the international soccer federation FIFA, which is accused of failing to hold Iran accountable for its discrimination against female fans and athletes.

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