Friday 9 December 2016

Iranian soccer star misses championship after husband forbids her from traveling

David Kearns

Published 18/09/2015 | 14:34

Captain Niloufar Ardalan holding her son after a game
Captain Niloufar Ardalan holding her son after a game

Iran’s top female soccer player will miss a major intentional tournament after her husband refused let her go.

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The Iranian women’s soccer team will be short one player when it travels to Malaysia to compete in the Asian indoor championship next week as captain Niloufar Ardalan (30) can not leave the country because her husband will not sign papers allowing her to renew her passport.

The soccer ace is married to sports journalist Mahdi Toutounchi, who under Iranian law has the right to keep his wife from leaving the country.

It is reported that his reason for keeping Ms Ardalan at home is that he does not want her to miss their 7-year-old son’s first day of school.

The journalist’s refusal to sign the passport papers as sparked widespread outrage among many Iranian women campaigning for greater freedoms.

Ms Ardulan herself expressed dismay over her husband’s decision and called on the country to revise its laws when it comes to allowing women to leave the country.   

Niloufar Ardalan has been a long-time advocate for women's rights in Iran
Niloufar Ardalan has been a long-time advocate for women's rights in Iran

“These games were very important to me,” she told Nasimonline via news.com.au.

“As a Muslim woman, I wanted to work for my country’s flag to be raised [at the games], rather than traveling for leisure and fun.”

She added: “I wish authorities would create [measures] that would allow female athletes to defend their rights in such situations.”

Ardulan, who is regarded as Iran’s best female player, is a long-time advocate for women’s rights in Iran, especially when it comes to equal treatment in sports.

In 2005, she made headlines for being one of the first women to attend a men’s national team match despite a ban on women attending men’s sporting events.

Last year, Ghoncheh Ghavami was jail for five months for going to see a men’s volleyball game.

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