The head of football's world governing body, FIFA, says Iran has assured him that it will "soon" allow women to attend men's football matches in the country.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino was speaking Friday at a FIFA equality conference in Zurich, a day after his attendance at a men-only football match in Tehran prompted criticism from rights activists.

Infantino, who also met with Iranian leaders including President Hassan Rouhani Thursday in the capital, said he was promised that Iranian women soon will have access to football stadiums. He did not specify who gave him that promise.

Iran has been barring women from attending some men's sporting events, especially football, since the first few years after its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iranian state media said police detained 35 women as they tried to enter Tehran's Azadi Stadium for Thursday's match between rival local men's clubs Esteghlal and Persepolis.

The reports quoted Iranian interior ministry spokesman Sayyed Salman Samani as saying the women were not arrested, but rather transferred to a proper place and released at the end of the game.

Esteghlal went on to beat Persepolis 1-0 in front of a capacity crowd of around 100,000 men at the stadium. Infantino and FIFA technical director Marco Van Basten were among them.

Infantino and Van Basten were in Iran to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Iran's football federation.

Appearing at a joint news conference with Iranian sports minister Massoud Soltanifar earlier Thursday, Infantino spoke about keeping football free of politics.

Article 4 of FIFA's statutes says discrimination of any kind against a group of people because of gender is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.

Infantino's presence at Azadi Stadium drew sharp criticism from human rights activists who accuse Iran of violating FIFA rules by banning women from men's matches. Geneva-based activist Hillel Neuer tweeted at FIFA, asking why it was silent on the matter.

Source: Voice of America