Iran has put up huge posters across the capital Tehran hailing the goalkeeper of the Iranian women’s football team as a ‘heroic girl’ after the Jordanian FA accused her of being a man.
Zohreh Koudaei, 32, saved two penalties in a 4-2 shoot-out victory over Jordan in Uzbekistan on September 25, meaning the Iranian women’s team qualified for its first ever Women’s Asia Cup.
But after the game Jordan’s FA demanded ‘a gender verification check’ on Koudaei from the Asian Football Federation (AFC).
In response, the goalkeeper vowed to sue the ‘bullying’ Jordanian FA.
In a sign of support, huge posters of Koudaei have been erected in Tehran, hailing her as a ‘heroic girl’.
The posters, which have been placed next to busy roads, feature a picture of Koudaei with the words: ‘The heroic girl Zohreh Koudaei pride of Iran, goalkeeper of the Iranian women’s team’.
It comes after Koudaei said empathetically: ‘I am a woman. This is bullying from Jordan.’
‘I will sue the Jordan FA,’ she added, according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.
Iran has put up huge posters across the capital Tehran (pictured on Friday) hailing the goalkeeper of the Iranian women’s football team as a ‘heroic girl’ after the Jordanian FA accused her of being a man
Zohreh Koudaei, 32, today said emphatically: ‘I am a woman. This is bullying from Jordan.’ ‘I will sue the Jordan Football Federation,’ she added, according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet .
Koudaei pounces on the ball during the match against fierce rivals Jordan in September
Iran’s national women’s football team have been accused by rivals Jordan of playing a man as a goalkeeper (pictured: Iran keeper Zohreh Koudaei) during an Asian Cup qualifier
Koudaei makes a stunning save against the Jordanian player at the match in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Koudaei celebrates by lifting up one of her teammates following the 4-2 shoot-out victory in Tashkent
The Jordan FA’s letter, dated November 5, cited doubts over the ‘eligibility of a participating player.’
It also alleged that the Iranian women’s team ‘has a history with gender and doping issues’, and called for ‘due process’ to be followed.
The President of Jordan’s FA, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, shared the letter on Saturday, calling it a ‘very serious issue if true’, and demanding that the AFC ‘please wake up’.
A spokesman for the AFC said: ‘The AFC does not comment on ongoing investigations and/or proceedings, whether actual or potential.’
The Iranian team manager denied the allegations, claiming that the Jordanian team, who were heavy favourites, were seeking an ‘excuse’ for losing the match.
Iran’s team coach, Maryam Irandoost, told sports news site Varzesh3 on Sunday: ‘The medical staff have carefully examined each player on the national team in terms of hormones to avoid any problems in this regard, and so I tell all fans not to worry.’
Koudaei has faced questions in the past over her gender, as reported by Saudi broadcaster Al Arabiya
The goalkeeper has also defended herself several times in Iranian newspapers in the past
Koudaei’s penalty saves earned Iran their first ever appearance at the Women’s Asian Cup
The coach said that Koudaei had previously represented her country in Asian Cup qualifiers in 2008 and 2010.
‘We will provide any documentation that the Asian Confederation of Football wishes without wasting time,’ she added.
Irandoost said the accusation was being used to cover up for Jordan’s loss.
‘These allegations are just an excuse not to accept the defeat against the Iranian women’s national team,’ she said.
‘The Jordanian team considered themselves the big favourite to qualify… and when they lost… it was natural to seek relief under false pretences and to escape responsibility for this failure.’
The president of the JFA, Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein who is also a former candidate for the FIFA presidency, called on the AFC to ‘please wake up’
The President of Jordan’s FA, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, tweeted a letter ‘requesting a gender verification check’ on Koudaei from the Asian Football Federation (AFC).
The letter from the Jordan Football Association to the Asian Football Confederation ‘requesting a gender verification check’ for a player in the Iranian Women National Team
Football is immensely popular with women in Iran despite hardline Islamic law which bans them from watching matches between men.
The Iranian national team has previously been accused of fielding men in the national football team.
In 2015, up to eight players in the squad were alleged to be men awaiting gender surgery.
The Iranian Football Federation had previously said it would bring in random medical testing to check the gender of its players.
Sex change operations have been legal in the country since the mid-1980s, when the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a religious ruling giving them the go-ahead.
The Ayatollah had been moved by the story of Maryam Khatoon Molkara who met him and described how she had been put in a mental hospital and forcibly injected with male hormones.
In 2015, up to eight players in the squad were alleged to be men awaiting gender surgery (this picture of the team went viral at the time)
Khomeini issued a decree making sex change operations legal and protecting the rights of trans people.
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.
Tehran has been dubbed one of the world’s hub’s for gender reassignment operations and there are no legal barriers for trans people in the country.
The government even helps with money towards hormone therapy and surgery for those who want it.
The 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup is set to kick off in India in January.