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Iranian women hold first ever indoors football championship

January 28, 20001, Teheran (dpa) - Iranian women are holding their first-ever indoors football championship in Teheran, the governmental daily Iran reported Sunday.

More than 20 teams from Teheran and nearby provinces are playing in the 10-day national championship, which 14 female referees will supervise, the report said.

The games are held in front of a female-only audience, and no men are allowed to even enter the Azadi sports complex where the games are being held.

Iranian women have long struggled for permission to play football and even wanted to establish their own football federation and national league, which have still been rejected.

Football is the most popular sport in Iran and interest has now reached Iranian women, who are obliged to wear a cloak and scarf to cover their hair and body.

Women sports have been one of the hottest issues in Iran for many years with female activists searching for religiously acknowledged ways to legalise them.

In 1998, the senior clergies approved women football in Iran but insisted no males are allowed in the audience.

Due to the strict dressing code, international sports are nearly impossible for Iranian women, except in fields such as shooting or chess.

Therefore the Iranian Women Sports Organisation initiated in 1993 the Islamic Women Olympics, in which women from Islamic countries can compete in all fields but referees and audience should be female only.


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