Iranian female fans grab their place ahead of World Cup qualifier against India
Cultural, economic and political ties between India and Iran go back a long way. The influence is apparent in, among many other things, cuisine, language and trade.
Despite being under British rule, India played a crucial role in the development of football in the Persian Gulf. In fact, it may well have set the ball rolling for what is now the best-ranked team in Asia. Iran played their first 'inter national match' against a team from British India in 1941.
Since then, a lot has happened. While India gained Independence and went on to become one of the fastest growing economies, Iran saw a revolution that changed the way the rest of the world interacted with the nation.
India has maintained a working relationship with the country, partly due to its rich oil reserves, which has helped bring many from Iran to these shores for education, mostly under a scholarship programme.
On Sunday, as the Iran national team walked onto the Kanteerava Stadium for practice ahead of Tuesday's World Cup qualifier, around 30 students assembled. Among them were young women, who back home wouldn't have been allowed in.
Iran, according to international media and authors, is not as conservative as it is made out to be. In fact, the Iranian football federation has more women in its committees than India's. Stadium, however, remain closed to them when hosting a men's game. Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British-Iranian, was recently arrested for trying to force her way into a men's volleyball match in Tehran.
On Sunday evening, they raised the pitch and hugged their favourite stars. "My favourite is goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi. He is so handsome. I hope to take a picture with him," said a fan, who identified herself as Shaima. Dressed in a top and trousers, she was a bundle of joy. Iran's matches outside their shores are known to attract a huge number of expatriates. By occupying a few seats here in Bangalore, these women gave another push in this direction. As they say, a revolution doesn't happen overnight.
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