Open main menu

Sahar Khodayari (Persian: سحر خدایاری‎; Persian pronunciation: [sæhær xodɒjɒriː]), also known as the Blue Girl[a] (c. 1990 – 8 September 2019), was an Iranian woman who self-immolated in protest of her prison sentence, in front of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Tehran.[2][3]

Sahar Khodayari
Sahar Khodayari, Blue girl 2.jpg
Native name
سحر خدایاری
Died8 September 2019(2019-09-08) (aged 29)
Cause of deathSelf-immolation
Resting placeBehesht-e Fatemeh, Qom
EducationBA in English & interpreting
BA in Computer Engineering[1]
Known forSelf-immolation in opposition to her prison sentence
TitleBlue Girl
Criminal chargeWoman trying to enter Azadi Stadium
Criminal penalty6 months imprisonment (not confirmed)

A fan of Tehran-based football club Esteghlal FC, Khodayari tried to enter Azadi Stadium for a match of AFC Champions League between Esteghlal and Al-Ain FC. As this act is illegal for women in Iran, she disguised herself as a man in an attempt to blend in with other fans. She was noticed by the security guards, who promptly arrested her and handed her over to the local NAJA. She was sentenced to 6-month imprisonment by the Islamic Revolutionary Court. In opposition to her prison sentence, she self-immolated in front of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran.[4] She died in hospital one week later due to the third-degree burns that she had suffered (approx. 90% of her skin surface area had been affected).[5][6][7]

Iranian public reacted with shock and anger following her death,[8] and Khodayari has since become a symbol of protest against the Iranian government and authoritarian figures among their opponents and anti-Islamic government activists. By using #BanIRSportsFederations, Iranians called for the Islamic regime's sports federations to be banned from participating in world sport.[9] Khodayari's death also drew a strong reaction from some local football stars and known figures, and international players and football authorities.[10][11]



Worldwide reactionEdit

  • FIFA made a statement about Sahar's death: "We are aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it."[12][13]
  • Italian club A.S. Roma spoke up in solidarity with Khodayari: "AS Roma is yellow & red but today our heart bleeds blue for Sahar Khodayari."[14]
  • Hedvig Lindahl and Kosovare Asllani, Swedish footballers, demanded that FIFA should end the ongoing "gender apartheid" in Iranian football stadiums.[15]
  • Amnesty International said, "What happened to Sahar Khodayari is heart-breaking and exposes the impact of the Iranian authorities' appalling contempt for women's rights in the country."[16]
  • Paul Pogba, French footballer, tweeted: "Strength and prayers to family and friends of blue girl, Sahar Khodayari"[17]
  • Masoud Shojaei, Iranian football team captain, expressed his sorrow after Iran's win over Hong Kong on 11 September 2019: "Condolences, girls of Iran. Today, Team Melli lost because Sahar wasn't with us".[18]
  • Spanish Club FC Barcelona said: "FC Barcelona is very sorry to hear about the death of Sahar Khodayari, may she rest in peace. Football is a game for everyone - men AND women, and everyone should be able to enjoy the beautiful game together in stadiums."[19]
  • The U.S. Department of State said: "Death of blue girl, Sahar Khodayari, is another proof for the fact that the Iranian people are the greatest victims of the Islamic regime."[20]
  • Farah Pahlavi, the last Shahbanu of Iran, twitted an statement saying: "Sahar, one of the symbols of the Iranian women's fight against the Islamic regime, will be remembered for ever."[21]
  • On 12 September 2019 an arrest warrant was issued for Saba Kamali, an Iranian actress, after her post on Instagram in support for the tragic death of the Blue Girl. She had published an imaginary dialogue with Husayn ibn Ali questioning the relevance of ceremonial Ashura event compared to Iran's discriminatory laws.[22]
  • English Club Chelsea FC said: "We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Sahar Khodayari. Football is a sport for all and we believe stadiums must be open to all."[23]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Blue is Esteghlal's jersey color,


  1. ^ a b "Who is Sahar Khodayari? The Death of the Blue Girl brought up a wave of empathy". BBC Persian. 14 September 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  2. ^ "Iranian female football fan who self-immolated outside court dies". The Guardian. Associated Press. 2019-09-10. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  3. ^ "Iranian football fan dubbed 'Blue Girl' arrested for trying to watch men's game dies week after setting herself on fire". ITV News. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  4. ^ "Iran: Shocking death of football fan who set herself on fire". Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  5. ^ "دختر آبی یک هفته پس از خودسوزی اعتراضی درگذشت" [Blue Girl passed away one week after self-immolation] (in Persian). Iran International. 2019-09-10.
  6. ^ "«دختر آبی» درگذشت" [Blue Girl Passed Away.] (in Persian). Radio Farda. 2019-09-09.
  7. ^ "دختر آبی؛ عشق فوتبالی که سوخت و سوزاند" (in Persian). BBC Persian. 2019-09-09.
  8. ^ "Iran's #BlueGirl dies after setting herself on fire in football-ban protest". The France 24 Observers. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
  9. ^ "Iranians call for world sport ban - on Iran – BBC News".
  10. ^ Fedschun, Travis (2019-09-10). "Iranian female soccer fan 'blue girl' dies after setting herself on fire". Fox News. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  11. ^ "Fotbollssupporten Sahar död i Iran". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  12. ^ "FIFA statement". Iran International. Twitter. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  13. ^ "فیفا: از این تراژدی آگاه و متاسفیم" [FIFA: We Are Aware Of That Tragedy And Deeply Regret It.] (in Persian). Iran International. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  14. ^ Hafezi, Parisa. "Iranian soccer fan "Blue Girl" dies after self-immolation". Reuters. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  15. ^ Kadeem, Simmonds. "Iranian female football fan dead after setting herself on fire". Morning Star. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  16. ^ "Iran: Shocking death of football fan who set herself on fire exposes impact of contempt for women's rights", Amnesty International, Sep 10, 2019, retrieved Sep 10, 2019
  17. ^ Paul Pogba. "Paul Pogba's twitter account". Twitter. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  18. ^ Masoud Shojaei. "تسلیت به دختران ایران؛ شجاعی: امروز تیم ملی باخت، چون سحر نبود". Twitter. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  19. ^ Barcelona, F. C. (2019-09-11). "FC Barcelona's Twitter account". @FCBarcelona. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  20. ^ "واکنش وزارت خارجه آمریکا به مرگ «دختر آبی»: بزرگترین قربانیان جمهوری اسلامی مردم ایران هستند". صدای آمریکا (in Persian). Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  21. ^ PAHLAVI, FARAH (2019-09-11). "در گذشت #سحر_خدایاری را به خانواده او، به ورزشکاران، به ورزش دوستان و همه هم میهنانم از صمیم قلب تسلیت می گویم". @ShahbanouFarah (in Persian). Retrieved 2019-09-13.
  22. ^ "'دستور بازداشت' یک هنرپیشه زن در ایران به اتهام 'توهین به امام حسین'". September 12, 2019.
  23. ^ FC, Chelsea (2019-09-11). "Chelsea FC's Twitter account". @ChelseaFC. Retrieved 2019-09-12.