Iran's ''women's'' national soccer team with eight men

Iran's ''women's'' national soccer team with eight men
Iran's Football Federation is accused of acting unethically, because many of the players on the women's national soccer team are allegedly men, reports the Danish newspaper Berlingske.

Iran's team has come under fire because a football functionary said that eight of the players are not women. At least not yet.

The eight players have played for the Iranian women's national soccer team without having completed their sex change operations, said Mojtabi Sharifi in an interview with the website Young Journalists Club, which was founded by Iran's official radio and television monopoly IRIB.

Sharifi is presented by the TV station al-Arabiya as an "official close to the Iranian league."

In the interview he did not reveal the names of the players, but claimed that several of them have played as men throughout their career and first revealed their sex on the final day.

The interview led immediately to the Iranian authorities ordered a gender test of the entire women's national team and a number of high-profile players in the Iranian league.

It is not the first time that this suspicion has been raised: In 2014, the British newspaper The Telegraph wrote that four of the players on Iran's women's national team were men. And already in 2010 questions were raised about one of the women's national team's ... well, goalies.

Sex change operations are legal in Iran, according to a fatwa - or religious ruling - from the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader behind Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979. This is in sharp contrast to the strict rules of sexual morality in the Iranian sharia law, which for example prohibits homosexuality and sex before marriage.

Sex change operations are mostly implemented in several stages in Iran, and the whole procedure, including hormone treatment, can last up to two years before a full sex change is a reality.

Football (soccer) is a very popular sport among Iranian women, who play wearing hijabs, hoodies and long trousers. But the separation is maintained: The religious rules prohibits female spectators at matches between male teams.

Last month, the national team captain had to opt out of a match against Malaysia - because her husband had forbidden her to travel.

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