Women in Iran may not be allowed to attend football matches between male sides for religious reasons, but the beautiful game is popular among the Islamic republic's female population.
Players in Iran's burgeoning professional women's football league will now be subjected to mandatory gender tests, after it has been revealed that four national team players were found guilty of not being women. The Telegraph reports:
The country's football governing body is bringing in the random checks after it was revealed that several leading players - including four in the national women's team - were either men who had not completed sex change operations, or were suffering from sexual development disorders.
Medical inspectors will now randomly attend professional women's games — and those in the indoor "footsal" league — to carry out spot checks.
Furthermore, clubs will now be obliged to perform gender tests before signing new players to contracts. Those unable to prove they are female would be barred from taking part in the league "until they underwent medical treatment," said Ahmad Hashemian, the head of the Iranian football federation's medical committee.
The Telegraph note that sex changes are often carried out in two-year phases in Iran, but they represent a legal grey area: they are permitted under a fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979, but contravene the sexual morality code of Sharia Law.
So far, a total of seven players have been barred from the league after failing gender tests.
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