Wednesday, October 07, 2015

So Macho? Iran women's football team accused of fielding men!

The Iran women's national football team represents Iran in international women's football, and is controlled by the Iran Football Federation. The head of women's football at the IFF is Farideh Shojaei.

Football is highly popular among many Iranian women, despite religious rules that bar them from entering stadiums to watch matches between male teams.

In 2015 for the first time in Iranian women's football history a national team qualified for a top continental competition.

On 26th September 2015, after Iran beat Japan in the Final at the inaugural Asian Women's Futsal Championship in Malaysia, reports emerged that eight of the Iranian team were male.

A FIFA medical officer on Tuesday rejected media reports that Iran had broken rules by fielding women footballers, at the recent Asian Championship, who were actually men.

In violation of FIFA rules, the players either had yet to complete a sex change or had suffered from sexual development disorders, Britain's 'Daily Telegraph' reported, citing Iranian sources.

A report by an Iranian state television website said: "the women players had the physical strength of men and some had male inclinations."

An official for FIFA rejected the claims of rule breaking, though she indicated some players had previously suffered medical conditions that affected their appearance.

"There are no gender concerns for women's futsal and football teams," Dr Zohreh Haratian, the governing body's appointee in Iran, told Shargh daily.

"No scientific proof exists on these claims," she said, noting that all the players had been checked.

According to the rules, any players participating in overseas matches, should first go through gender verification by FIFA's medical representative, Dr Haratian explained.

"Only then the player will be permitted to play in Asian or global matches. FIFA will respond to such accusations by foreign media," she said, naming Saudi Arabia's Al-Arabia and Britain's Sky News.

The allegations are not new, said Haratian, also the Head of Iran's Football Medical Assessment and Rehabilitation Center. "In the past, a few of our female football players were accused of being bisexual," she continued, adding that "in 2010, one player suffering an inborn disease of adrenal glands, looked liked a man but was actually a woman."

"When FIFA understood that their problem was inborn, it rejected the claims and issued permits for them to play in matches."

However more recently, back in February 2014, it was reported that four players had been removed from the Iranian national team squad after failing to be determined as women. The British newspaper 'The Telegraph' reported that it was because the players "were either men who had not completed sex change operations, or were suffering from sexual development disorders"

Gender change operations are legal in Iran according to a fatwa - or religious ruling - pronounced by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The law contrasts with the strict rules governing sexual morality under the country's Sharia legal code, which forbids homosexuality and pre-marital sex.

Sex changes are commonly carried out in phases in Iran, with the full procedure taking up to two years and including hormone therapy before the full gender transformation is completed.

In the recent week long tournament held in Nilai, Malaysia Iran defeated Hong Kong, Uzbekistan and the hosts in the group stages, before overcoming Thailand in the semi-final and Japan 1-0 in the final.

Iran's Fereshteh_Karimi (right) was awarded the title of the tournament's Most Valuable Player (MVP), scoring six times including the winning goal in the final.

The Iranian women's national team featured freely without the hijab up until the Iranian Revolution which began in January 1978 and ended in February 1979.
Reformed in 2005, the women's national team finished runners-up in the 2005 West Asian Football Federation Women's Championship held in Amman, Jordan.

In May 2006, the women's team hosted their first foreign visitors when a club from Berlin, Germany called BSV Al-Dersimspor played out a 2–2 draw in Ararat Stadium, Tehran.

The team were again runners-up at both the 2007 and 2011 West Asian Football Federation Women's Championship, after Iran had briefly been banned by FIFA from international competition in 2011 for wearing hijabs.

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