The Washington Post:

By Jason Rezaian

Recent developments show that Iran is succumbing to international pressure — just not the kind the Trump administration has been exerting in the form of economic sanctions.

Last week, in surprise reversals of two long-standing policies, Iranian women were — for the first time — granted the right to pass their citizenship to children fathered by non-Iranian men. Then authorities quietly lifted the ban on women entering soccer stadiums when they began selling tickets to the Oct. 10 match between Iran and Cambodia’s national teams. The game will be held in Tehran’s Azadi or “Freedom” Stadium.

To say that these concessions were granted reluctantly by Iran’s misogynistic rulers would be an extreme understatement. But a prolonged and principled commitment by activists inside Iran and their supporters in the international community of human rights advocacy to extend women’s liberties is paying off.

There are few international organizations that fully embrace the Islamic Republic of Iran as a member. One is the United Nations, and although Iran is still seen as an outlaw nation in some respects, Tehran has sometimes managed to use its U.N. membership to its advantage. For example, Iranian officials attending meetings at the United Nations use every opportunity to spread their agenda through the international media, enjoying the freedom of expression they deny to their own subjects.

But one organization that seems to have backed Iran into a corner, forcing Tehran to make a concession that until last week seemed unthinkable, is FIFA, which oversees international soccer, the world’s most beloved sport.

FIFA is a massive entity that wields enormous economic and political clout around the world. Yes, there’s plenty to criticize about the group, which has earned plenty of public scorn for evidence of corruption and hypocrisy on human rights. Yet its recent proclamations may have done more than anything else to crack Iran’s 40 years of gender apartheid.

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