Are you woman enough for this team? Iranian women's football league under new gender testing laws
Footballers in Iran’s professional women’s league are being forced to undergo gender tests to see whether they are “fully female,” Britain’s Telegraph reported on Sunday.
According to the newspaper, random checks will be implemented by Iran’s football governing body after it was found that “several leading players - including four in the national women’s team - were either men who had not completed sex change operations, or were suffering from sexual development disorders.”
In Iran, sex change operations are legal, in accordance to a fatwa (religious edict) issued by the spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The clubs have now been requested to carry out medical examinations to establish the gender of their players before signing them, Ahmad Hashemian, the head of the Iranian football federation’s medical committee, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
“If these people can solve their problems through surgery and be in a position to receive the necessary medical qualifications, they will then be able to participate in [women’s] football,” Hashemian added.
But those unable to prove they are female would be barred from taking part in the women’s leagues until they underwent medical treatment, he said.
According to IRNA, seven players have already had their contracts terminated under the federation’s gender test directive.
The sport is widely popular among Iranian women, although there are religious rules in place which ban them from entering stadiums to watch matches between male teams.