Iranian fans hold their national flag
File photo: Iranian fans hold their national flag during the AFC Champions League final football match between Japan's Kashima Antlers and Iran's Persepolis in Kashima, on November 3, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

Hong Kong: Campaigners in Iran remain hopeful that local women will be permitted to attend the Asian Champions League final in Tehran on Saturday, bringing an end to almost four decades of exclusion from top club matches in the country.

A crowd of more than 80,000 is expected at the Azadi Stadium as Persepolis, Iran’s best-supported club, seek to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Japan’s Kashima Antlers and claim their first continental crown.

Iranian women and girls have not been granted access to matches involving top clubs since 1981.

Video posted on social media last week showed officials at the Azadi Stadium discussing possible locations for a “family stand”, an initiative that would permit women to access the stadium.

While the video sparked hope among campaigners, there has been no subsequent announcement, however.

“It has been silent for days, the only thing we saw publicly was a short video from the sports ministry inside the Azadi Stadium and they were talking about a female section,” a spokesperson for the Open Stadiums campaign group said.