ESPN’s 30 For 30 Podcasts “Pink Card” Podcast Available Now

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ESPN’s 30 For 30 Podcasts “Pink Card” Podcast Available Now

Podcast Documents 40-year Movement to Lift Ban on Women Attending Soccer Games in Iran; Executive Produced by Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe’s Production Company A Touch More

30 for 30 Podcasts debuts all four episodes of its captivating next installment “Pink Card” today, December 8. The audio documentary tells a four-decade story of daring women who defy Iran’s ban on women entering stadiums. It is the first solo podcast from Peabody Award-winning host and executive producer Shima Oliaee (Radiolab, Dolly Parton’s America). The podcast is the first project from Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe’s Production Company A Touch More.

Iran’s national soccer stadium is named “Azadi.” That means “freedom.” But Iranian women have been banned from that stadium – and from all live soccer games – for more than 40 years. Some women have dared to defy that. “Pink Card” follows three generations of women as they go underground and undercover to defy Iran’s ban on women at soccer stadiums, where at any point they may be turned in to Iran’s oppressive morality police. They’ve protested at the stadium gates, subverted officials, and snuck into games. They’ve risked their lives for the basic right to stand as equal citizens at a soccer match, and their struggle connects to events unfolding in Iran today. As the Middle East hosts the World Cup for the first time, and the refrain “Women, Life, Freedom!” echoes around the world for Iranian women’s rights, Oliaee tells the tale of their fight. 

“Pink Card” is a story of the love of soccer, of creative resistance, and of survival. The series will forever change the way you think about fandom and freedom. It features interviews with Iranian writer and activist Mehrangiz Kar; best-selling author Azar Nafisi; Zeinab Sahafi, a young Iranian woman sent into exile for dressing as a boy to sneak into stadiums; and original members of the White Scarves group Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, Nasrin Afzali, and Sara from Open Stadiums, as well as voiceover from actor Sarah Shahi.

Said Oliaee: “I’ve been working on this series for three years, and the main goal has always been to broadcast the sound of girls and women in Iran – their laughing, rebelling, shouting, and singing – their joy! For decades that sound has been banned from many places, including soccer games. With the latest protests, we can hear women again in the streets all over Iran, and that sound has now reverberated across the world.”

30 for 30 Podcasts can be found on the ESPN App, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, iHeart, Spotify, TuneIn, SiriusXM, Pandora and wherever podcasts are available. All four episodes of  “Pink Card” will be available for fans to binge-listen on Thursday, December 8. The episode lineup includes:

Episode 1: RED GIRL Growing up Iranian American, Shima Oliaee found her mother didn’t talk much about where she came from. Watching soccer, though, was a portal to Iran, a place that was in large part a mystery. Shima delves into the stories she didn’t hear growing up: Iran’s mandated modernization and how soccer played a role, the women-led 1979 revolution, and her parents’ mistaken-identity love story.  Shima and her mom meet Zeinab Sahafy, a young Iranian women and soccer fan, who has been named an enemy of the state.

Episode 2: THE MANNEQUINS This episode starts with two questions: If women equally led the 1979 revolution, why were their rights stripped away first? How does this happen to an emboldened part of the population? At first, the women fight back, chanting “Azadi! Azadi!” [translation: “Freedom! Freedom!”] in the streets until the clerics back down.  But in a story told by legendary writer Mehrangiz Kar, women’s rights erode one by one – leading us to the nationwide ban on women at stadiums. This is when Iran’s national soccer stadium becomes a battleground.

Episode 3: THE WHITE SCARVES One game sets off a movement. In 1997 Iran surprisingly makes the World Cup in the last three minutes of play in a game against Australia. When Iran’s national team gets helicoptered into Azadi Stadium to celebrate, women are asked to stay home. They don’t listen, and thousands rush the stadium. This is the origin story of the White Scarves, a group that uses international soccer matches to defy the regime and take back their country. As the White Scarves gain international fame, they face grave danger at home.

Episode 4: BLUE GIRL The newest generation of Iranian girl soccer fans take a bold new approach. They cross-dress as men to sneak into Azadi, documenting their rebellion live on social media – an irreverent middle finger to the government. One of those girls is Zeinab Sahafy, from Episode 1. One night four of her friends are arrested and she flees for her life. Another girl, still in the country, loses her life. In a moment described as “a miracle,” Iran’s regime relents on its ban and thousands of women enter the stadium.  We end “Pink Card” wondering how this hard-won slice of freedom connects to the 2022 historic protests and a possible new revolution, more than 40 years after Shima’s teenage mother left home.

About 30 for 30 Podcasts
30 for 30 Podcasts, from ESPN Films and ESPN Audio, are original audio documentaries from the makers of the acclaimed 30 for 30 film series. Telling sports stories like you’ve never heard before, through a combination of original reporting and archival sound, 30 for 30 Podcasts goes beyond the field to explore how sports, competition, athleticism and adventure affect our lives and our world. The series has been recognized by the NYF International Radio Awards, the Webby Awards, and the RTDNA Kaleidoscope Awards; as well as inclusion on numerous “best-of” lists from press outlets such as The Atlantic, Vulture, TIME and Entertainment Weekly. Episodes have been featured on NPR, 99% Invisible, Slate Podcasts and have been developed for scripted television. For more visit 30for30podcasts.com.

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Isabelle Lopez

Based in New York City, Isabelle Lopez is a Communications Manager for ESPN Films and Original Content. Her projects include the critically-acclaimed 30 for 30 documentary series, ESPN Cover Story, and The ESPYS, among others.
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