June 19, 2015

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Iran has defeated the United States 3-0 at a home volleyball match attended by 12,000 people and broadcast live on state TV, as a ban on female spectators remained in place despite an official saying recently that it might be eased.

Iran won the first set 25-19, the second by 29-27 and the third by 25-20 in the FIVB world league series Friday at Azadi Stadium in the capital, Tehran. The two teams will meet again on Sunday.

The United States, which was the champion of the 2014 round, beat the Iranian squad 3-1 in two matches in May.

The United States and Iran have had no diplomatic relations for more than three decades. State TV muted its microphones inside the stadium when the American national anthem was played and broadcast only a reporter's voice.

No Iranian women were allowed to attend the match in keeping with a ban in place since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Foreign women are allowed to attend matches of their national teams.

Earlier this month, Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi told The Associated Press that ''a limited number of women, mainly families of national team players,'' would be allowed to watch volleyball matches as a way of gradually introducing change.

Molaverdi, a reformist politician and women's rights activist, said women would be allowed into stadiums to watch men's matches in specific sports such as volleyball, basketball, handball and tennis. However, she said women still won't be allowed into soccer, swimming and wrestling events.

But on Tuesday, Iran's Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said ''no new decision has been made about women's attendance at sports stadiums.''

The ban came to worldwide attention last year over the detention of an Iranian-British woman, Ghoncheh Ghavami, who tried to attend a men's volleyball match between Iran and Italy. Ghavami was eventually sentenced to a year in prison for ''propagating against the ruling system,'' but was freed on bail in November pending an appeal.

Iran's judiciary has said her case was linked to opposition activism. But the FIVB, which oversees world volleyball, called for her release, saying it showed ''the need to give men and women worldwide equal rights to participate in sport.''

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