Eight of Iranian women's football team 'are men'
Published 02/10/2015 | 02:30
Eight of Iran's women's football team are actually men awaiting sex-change operations, it has been claimed.
The country's football association was accused of being "unethical" for knowingly fielding eight men in its women's team.
Mojtabi Sharifi, an official close to the Iranian league, told an Iranian news website: "(Eight players) have been playing with Iran's female team without completing sex-change operations."
On Wednesday, authorities reportedly ordered gender testing of the entire national squad and leading league players. The names of the players thought to be male were not revealed.
The Iranian women's team play in hijab headscarfs, long-sleeved tops and tracksuit bottoms.
In 2014, the country's football governing body introduced random checks after it was revealed that four national team players were either men who had not completed sex change operations, or were suffering from sexual development disorders.
In 2010, doubts were raised about the gender of the team's goalkeeper.
Gender change operations are legal in Iran according to a fatwa - or religious ruling - pronounced by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The law contrasts with the strict rules governing sexual morality under the country's Sharia legal code, which forbids homosexuality and pre-marital sex.
Sex changes are commonly carried out in phases in Iran, with the full procedure taking up to two years and including hormone therapy before the full gender transformation is completed.
Football is highly popular among many Iranian women, despite religious rules that bar them from entering stadiums to watch matches between male teams.