In Iran all women are required to cover their hair in public to conform to the Islamic dress code. This rule applies to female football players too.
Women’s football in Iran started in 1970. Women had the personal ambition of participating in male football competitions in alleys and streets, so they took part in some men’s football games. Taj was the first club to train women. Thereafter, women took part first in football training and then in football teams such as Taj, Deyhim, Persepolis FC, Oghab FC and Khasram. By organizing different competitions between those teams, the best players were selected and placed in the first Iranian women’s national team. They started to train more seriously as sport magazine published the news of their progress, then gradually a huge number of female fans arose to support the team. With the help of educational institutions across the country, talented youngsters were scouted. Women’s football continued to grow until the Iranian revolution in 1979.
Iran women’s national football team during training at Azadi stadium in Tehran
In 1993 a rebound was made for women’s football in Iran, in the shape of futsal, a form of indoor football, started by Alzahra University. At first it faced the refusal by the sport’s administration, however because of the passion shown by the students towards football, the university changed the law and the first unofficial female competition was organized since the Iranian revolution. Women’s football activity continued to grow until finally, in 1997 the physical education organization formed a women’s futsal committee and since then officially sport clubs have begun to encourage women’s futsal teams in Iran. Since 2001 the first national female students’ competition was officially organised under the supervision of the ministry of education, research and technology in Alzahra University. This competition was made by 12 teams from different universities. In 2004 subsequent efforts were not made to provide facilities for women. Occasionally female teams train with the Islamic veil in stadiums in small groups on good quality pitches. An attempt has also been made to allow women into stadiums at the same time as men. But up to now women football players have never trained on pitches of good quality. Nowadays only indoor facilities are accessible to women footballers.
In 2010. football’s world-governing body FIFA banned the team in April after the Iranian Olympic Committee insisted they play in headscarves. In May, the Iranian Football Federation said it had reached a compromise with FIFA whereby the under-15 team would play in caps at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore on 14-26 August. But the official in charge of women’s affairs at Iran’s Physical Education Organisation stormed off when she saw that the strip did not conform to what had been ordered. “These strips should not only be approved by international federation officials but also by Iran’s Sharia law and they should comply with the Islamic framework,” she said. “We will not send the team [to Singapore] at any cost.” To comply with the regulations, Iranian designers have created a white apparel with red-and-green details in the colors of the Iranian flag. The compromise outfit consists of a cap that covers all the hair, long-sleeved tops, below the knee pants, and long stockings. FIFA President Sepp Blatter said that he was pleased the team made the trip to Singapore to participate in the games.