Iranian women footballers will be required to undergo mandatory gender-testing after it was revealed that four players in the national women’s team were in fact men.
Medical examiners will conduct random checks at training sessions and any players who fail the examination and cannot prove that they are completely female will be barred from the competition.
Iran’s football governing body announced the random checks after it was revealed that several leading players, including four in the national women’s team, were men who had not completed sex change operations or who were suffering from sexual development disorders, reported the Telegraph.
Sex change operations have been legal in Iran since 1979, when the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a religious ruling saying they were acceptable.
The legality of sex change procedures contrasts with the country’s otherwise strict laws regarding sexual morality under the nation’s Sharia code, which forbids homosexuality and pre-marital sex, among other things.
While those who cannot prove they are female will be barred from competing in the women’s competition, they will be re-admitted once they have completed the sex change process.
‘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,’ Ahmad Hashemian, head of the Iranian football federation’s medical committee, told IRNA, the state news agency.
Football is immensely popular in Iran among both men and women, even though women are not able to attend games between male teams.
Seven players have already had their contracts terminated since the Iranian football federation said that clubs were required to establish a player’s gender before signing them.
Concerns about the sex of players first emerged four years ago, it is believed, when one women’s team raised suspicions about the goalkeeper on an opposing team.
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