Thousands of Iranian women fans are to attend a football match freely Thursday for the first time in decades, after Fifa threatened to suspend the country over its controversial male-only policy.

The Islamic republic has barred female spectators from football and other stadia for approximately 40 years, with clerics arguing they must be shielded from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.

World football’s governing body Fifa ordered Iran last month to allow women access to stadia without restriction and in numbers determined by demand for tickets.

The directive came after a fan dubbed “Blue Girl” died after setting herself on fire in fear of being jailed for dressing up as a boy to attend a match.

Women were quick to get their hands on tickets to attend Iran’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cambodia at Tehran’s 100,000-capacity Azadi Stadium today.

The first batch sold out in less than an hour, and additional seats were also snapped up in short order, state media said.

One of the 3,500 women to have secured a ticket was Raha Poorbakhsh, a football journalist.

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