Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press
Iran is the highest-ranked soccer team in Asia, a position that underlines the Middle Eastern country’s status as a regional favorite to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, planned for nearby Qatar.
Thousands of Iranians are expected to make the short journey to cheer on their team, just as they did when the tournament was held in faraway Brazil in 2014, and most recently in Russia last year. Many were women who live in Iran, yet are prohibited from attending men’s soccer matches in their home country.
Iran’s biggest obstacle to qualifying for the World Cup may be off the field, because a campaign to change that prohibition is getting louder.