|Under fire ... Iranian women's football captain Niloofar Ardalan speaking with her teammates during a practice session in Tehran. Picture: AFP/ISNA/Amir Kholoosi|
IRAN’S soccer association has been blasted as “unethical” following bombshell reports that eight members of its women’s team are men. “[Eight players] have been playing with Iran’s female team without completing sex change operations,” Mojtabi Sharifi, an official close to the Iranian league, told a local news website.
Officials have now ordered gender testing of the entire national squad and leading league players, The Telegraph in the UK reported. The eight players have not been named. The women’s team plays in hijab headscarves, long-sleeved jerseys and tracksuit pants.
|Competitive ... Berlin's female soccer team player, Valerie Assmann, right, fights for the ball in front of her unidentified teammate and Iranian Niloufar Ardalan, left, during a friendly match at the Ararat stadium in Tehran, Iran on April 28, 2006. Picture: AP PhotoSource:AP|
This is not the first time the team has been involved in a gender scandal. Last year, four national team players were found to be either men who had not completed sex change operations or were suffering from sexual development disorders.
In 2010, the gender of the team’s goalkeeper was called into question.
|Top player ... Iranian women's football captain Niloofar Ardalan during a practice session in Tehran on December 3, 2014. Picture: AFP/ISNA/Amir KholoosiSource:AFP|
Sex change operations have been legal in Iran since 1979, when the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a religious ruling or fatwa giving them the go-ahead.
The law is in stark contrast to the Islamic republic’s strict rules around homosexuality and premarital sex.
Originally published as Iran’s women’s team mostly male