While it takes great dedication and effort to make it to the national team of a country in any sport, it takes more than just that to reach such a stage in a country where certain laws take you down just because of the fact that you are a woman.
Facing a similar situation, the captain of the Iranian women’s football team, Niloufar Ardalan missed the prestigious Asian Cup tournament because her husband has confiscated her passport over a domestic quarrel.
The news came to light after few local channels reported about the incident followed by Ardalan confirming the reports by stating that she could not participate since her husband had not given her permission.
The domestic dispute between 30-year-old Ardalan and her husband Mahdi Toutounchi, who is, ironically, a sports journalist by profession, only brings to light the condition of the women’s rights in the Islamic Republic.
The dispute also highlights how the Iranian law are biased towards the male population, as under the Iranian law a husband can stop his wife from travelling outside of the country and, by law, a married Iranian woman needs her spouse’s consent to obtain or renew her passport.
According to Iranian news website fararu.com,which was the first to report about Ardalan, the reason for the Iranian captain not being able to obtain permission was because her husband wanted her to be home for their son’s first day of school.
While Ardalan has not spoken to any international media, she did reportedly responded in an Instagram post stating that foreign media was exaggerating her case but acknowledged she would be miss the tournament.
She then added in her post:
“I am only a national soldier who fights to raise flag of our country, I wish a law would be approved that allows female soldiers to fight for raising the flag.”
Ardalan, or ‘Lady Goal’ as she is popularly known as, has called out to Iran and Iranian government, requesting that laws to be changed with regards to women in sports.
The incident has sparked huge social media chatter across Iran, with many coming out in support of Ardalan.
Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, sports featuring women largely disappeared from the country but with time such games, especially football, are gaining popularity once again.
Special care is, however, taken to ensure that social customs are still followed in the games. Female player are required to cover their hair with hijabs and wear full-body clothing.