'Where are our women?' – Iran World Cup billboard criticised

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A huge billboard in Iran’s capital Tehran in support of the national team at the World Cup has been criticised because it does not feature any women.

The picture shows men of different ethnicities celebrating around a trophy.

A line under the picture reads in Persian: “Together we are champions; one nation, one heartbeat.”

In response, the front page of the Qanun newspaper carried an image of the billboard with the caption ‘We lose without women’.

Social media users in Iran criticised what they saw as implied gender discrimination by excluding women from the picture.

“We, women, have no share in our country’s happiness,” wrote Twitter user @Banafshehjamali.

“This is what we mean by gender discrimination and the elimination of half of the country’s population.”

Iranian journalist Hossein Ghahhar added: “Where are our country’s women during the celebrations? Do women not live in this country?”

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Mostafa Mousavi-Lari, a reformist official at Tehran Municipality, said he had discussed the issue with the head of the Tehran Beautification Organisation – a municipal group in charge of decorating walls, parks and other public spaces, including billboards.

According to Mousavi-Lari, the official has promised to replace the billboard with a new one that includes both men and women.

Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, women have not been allowed inside sporting venues.

In April, several women disguised themselves as men so they could watch their team, Persepolis, play rivals Sepidrood at the Azadi stadium in Tehran.

This week the ISNA news agency reported Iranian women will be allowed into Tehran’s Azadi Stadium to watch World Cup matches on a big screen.

“Fans will be able to watch the most exciting matches together with their family members in the biggest sports complex of the Middle East,” the report said.

BBC presenter Gabby Logan tweeted on Thursday that she had spoken to two Iranian journalists about their website’s campaign to get more women commentators and presenters in Iran.

Iran, who are 37th in Fifa’s world rankings, are taking part in the World Cup for the fifth time.

They start against Morocco on Friday in St Petersburg (16:00 BST) before playing Spain in Kazan on 20 June (19:00) and then Portugal in Saransk on 25 June (19:00).

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Material provided by BBC Monitoring.

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