British-Iranian woman Ghoncheh Ghavami has been sentenced to a year in jail for attending an International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) World League match in Tehran in June, her lawyer has revealed.
FIVB's Brazilian President Ary S Graça's has called for Ghavami's release, but news of her sentence coincides with Tehran being awarded the 2015 Asian Men's Volleyball Championships by the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC),
The FIVB claim it was solely the decision of the AVC and they had no influence over who the tournament was awarded too.
Ghavami, a 25-year-old law student based in London, was detained after attending the match between Iran and Italy at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran on June 20, subsequently spending over 120 days behind bars before a hearing on October 14.
This comes after a 25-year long rule banning women from attending football matches in the Islamic nation was extended to volleyball in 2012, although Iranian officials claim she was detained for spreading "propaganda against the regime" rather than directly for attending the match.
The issue has provoked much outrage across the world in recent weeks, with an online petition submitted by Ghavami's London-based brother, Iman, entitled "Bring my sister home; #FreeGhonchehGhavami خواهرم را به خانه برگردانید" seeking to put pressure on Iran and other National Governments in an effort to secure her safe release.
It has been signed by more than 705,000.
More than 130 women's rights activists have also written to FIVB chief Graça and demanded he protect the right of Iranian women to enter sports stadiums and attend volleyball matches, including Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate.
After first claiming it was not their place to interfere in the culture of the people, the FIVB revealed last month a letter had been sent to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calling for her release.
The International Olympic Committee have also written to the National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran asking them to help Ghavami, although it appears neither letter has received a response.
"We never normally seek to interfere with the laws of any country," Graça told delegates from 210 National Volleyball Federations during the Congress yesterday.
"But in accordance with the Olympic Charter, the FIVB is committed to inclusivity and the right of women to participate in sport on an equal basis.
"As you know, I have written to the President of Iran, His Excellency Hassan Rouhani, asking him to intervene on this most sensitive matter to try and secure her release.
"The Iranian National Volleyball Federation has also worked continuously to secure her release.
"However she remains detained.
"So dear friends, I am sure that you will join me today in continuing to state the FIVB's strongest wish that Ghoncheh Ghavami should be released immediately.
"And that women throughout the world should be allowed to watch and participate in volleyball on an equal basis."
This FIVB stance, however, has been undermined by the lack of success they have actually had in securing her release, as well as the several gestures of support to Iran's right to host major volleyball events.
This has been followed by the news Iran will host the 2015 Asian Men's Championships, a major continental tournament in which the winner will secure a berth in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
An FIVB spokesperson has told insidethegames that they are "currently evaluating what options they have regarding the Continental Championships, but no decision has yet been made".
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