Clerical error? | Iranian officials say coed attendance remains possible, despite sharia’ ban

Abbass-Gholizadeh sees the admission of women to football matches as a stepping-stone to other reforms. Sport seems a potent area for challenge of cultural and political norms. Women have participated in large public celebrations after Iran’s World Cup successes in 1998 and 2006. Rally car driver Laleh Seddigh—called “the little Schumacher”—has implicitly challenged the male ruling establishment through her victories. In October, the 2004 national champion was barred from participating in a race. Organizers cited “security problems.”

Iranian director Jafar Panahi‘s film Offside has been touring the festival circuit to acclaim. The quasi-documentary about women trying to sneak inside Azadi Stadium to see Iran’s World Cup qualifier—art imitating life—has been banned from public theaters in Iran (see a clip concerning one of the women, who are detained, trying to take a halftime toilet break). To Panahi, in an interview with website Open Democracy (“Offside Rules: An Interview with Jafar Panahi,” 6 Jul 06), restrictions on women’s attendance are an “unwritten law”; there is no written ban. As women have done in Iran in order to experience aspects of life denied to them, Panahi’s protagonists must disguise themselves as boys in order to sneak past a security detail.

I believe that it is the greatest insult to women that they have to deny their identity as women and have to dress as men to take part in society. So yes, there is humour, but it is bitter humour. You may laugh at it, but nevertheless you feel very sad that women have to deny their femininity to take part in a function where men can take part.


While women continue their campaign to watch football, the state as of Feb 07 has cracked down on women playing rugby, according to Radio Farda. Hamid Tehrani of Global Voices, who translates an online report, says seven teams had been organized into a national competition (see pictures). The government, however, has banned the sport on the premise that only male coaches are available.

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2 comments on this post.
  1. Esfandyar Feili:

    Thinking of women: Think of them as your mother, and as your grandmother, and as your soulmate. How can one be against his grandmother, mother, soulmate and the source of life on earth and still think to be a man of God?

  2. Alexander:

    It’s long overdue that the women of Iran took part in all areas of sport, either as participants or spectators. They make up half the population of that great country after all.

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