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Iranian women steadfast in campaign to attend soccer matches

Despite crackdowns and unfulfilled promises by politicians, female soccer fans in Iran continue to protest — and to cross-dress — in their efforts to attend matches at stadiums.
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I was in the Italian city of Milan on April 15, 2015, when I decided to attend the local soccer match at San Siro Stadium. Milan had been one of my favorite teams since childhood, and San Siro seemed like a good choice for my first time seeing a soccer game live at an arena. Since emigrating from Iran in 2012, I had often dreamed of the day. In fact, I had been dreaming of the day since I was 10 years old.

My fantasy began one summer in the city of Ahvaz, in southwestern Iran, the night I watched Italy play Nigeria in the 1994 FIFA World Cup, held in the United States. From that day on, soccer became a big part of my life. I was a diehard fan, whether following the Iran league or European soccer leagues, watching on television and listening on the radio. Every morning, I bought the sports pages. I owned the scarf, hat and T-shirt of my favorite team.

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