Iran women stadium protest
After a 36-year ban, Iran will allow its women to attend major sporting events. Getty

After decades of isolation from spectator sports, Iran will ease restrictions on its female supporters by allowing them to attend major sporting events alongside men.

Under the new rule, women and families will be permitted to enter stadiums whilst restrictions will be lifted for indoor sporting events. However, "masculine" sports where athletes wear little gear, such as swimming and wrestling, will still be off-limits for females.

The plan will come into effect next year, Deputy Sports Minister Abdolhamid Ahmadi said. The official also called for an adjustment in stadium atmosphere.

"Stadiums must become family-orientated, and the atmosphere there must be softened," Ahmadi said.

In the past, exceptions have been made for foreigners and in rare circumstances, small groups of Iranian female football supporters.

Women have been barred from frequenting men's sports since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 which installed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic. The aim was to stop unrelated men and women from mixing in their numbers.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has previously urged the country to end its "intolerable" ban on women attending football games. Last month the Iranian bid to host the 2019 Asian Football Cup was beaten by the United Arab Emirates.

Last year, British-Iranian citizen Ghoncheh Ghavami was held in solitary confinement in Iran's notorious Evin prison for trying to attend a men's volleyball match. Ms Ghavami was imprisoned for five months before being released on bail.

"Although this proposal is likely to be enforced with some limitations in the beginning, fortunately the issue of women demanding to be allowed in stadiums has gained much public support in the country thanks to the efforts of women's rights activists in the past 10 years," Ms Ghavami told the Observer.

"The new government has supported the ban to be lifted but we want to make sure there will be a guarantee that women will be allowed to attend all sporting events in future," she said.