Football: Blatter calls on Iran to end ban on women watching the game in stadiums

ZURICH (Reuters) - Fifa president Sepp Blatter has asked Iran to end its ban on women watching football matches, describing the situation as intolerable.

"When I travelled to Iran in November 2013, I was not only confronted with huge popular enthusiasm from football but also a law forbidding women from attending football matches," he wrote in Fifa's weekly magazine.

"I raised the topic at my meeting with the President of Iran Hassan Rouhani, and came away with the impression that this intolerable situation could change over the medium term.

"However, nothing has happened. A collective 'stadium ban' still applies to women in Iran, despite the existence of a thriving women's football organisation.

"This cannot continue. Hence, my appeal to the Iranian authorities; open the nation's football stadiums to women."

During the Asian Cup in Australia this year, Iran's support included thousands of women who were free to show up in Australia, without any dress restrictions.

Their female supporters also became a big hit with local media, prompting the Iranian authorities to remind the players to be wary of posing for photographs that could be posted on social media.

Iran is bidding against the United Arab Emirates to host the 2019 Asian Cup and the ban on women is expected to damage their chances of being awarded the tournament.