An Iranian woman recently died from from self-inflicted burns after she was arrested for trying to attend a soccer match in the country, and her death has brought renewed scrutiny to Iran’s law that bans women from entering soccer stadiums. FIFA, an organization always eager to do the bare minimum in pushing back against human rights abuses, has responded to the heightened scrutiny not with forceful action, but with a mealy-mouthed statement.
In the statement, posted proudly by the world soccer governing body on their website and attributed to president Gianni Infantino, FIFA says, in very uncertain terms, that they are doing everything they can to help Iranian women enter soccer stadiums, without detailing any real plan of action:
I am hopeful that the Iranian Federation and the Iranian authorities were receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation.
I contacted them several times in the recent past and so has the FIFA administration. We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them.
Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran.
We understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October.
FIFA threatens countries with actual punishments for all sorts of infractions—they recently threatened to kick Spain out of the World Cup in response to government interference with the country’s soccer association—and yet somehow all the organization can muster in response to Iran’s shameful policy is a hollow statement. FIFA hasn’t acted beyond a statement in June and the one released on Thursday, both echoing the same sentiment: they sure would like it if Iran played nice, but they’re not going to do anything to try and make it happen.