The above picture was taken in 2015 in Australia, Asian Cup.Women are forbidden to attend sports played by male-teams in Iran.
Wouldn’t be lovely to see our football fans in our country?
Tehran hosted the Syria -Iran Football match on September 5th, 2017. Once more the Iranian authorities together with all other Iranian male-chauvinists became the laughing stock of people: while the she-Syrian supporters were allowed to attend the match in the Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, Iranian women were barred from it. Result: Syria-Iran: 2-2.
We wrote the following piece in 2006 and have updated it with some links from the recent Syria-Iran match. The Islamic Republic of Iran cannot and will not change, since their staunch supporters are the he-Iranians. Tell us what has made a different under Hassan Rouhani’s presidency that we are not aware of?
Al-Monitor’s title on Sept 5th read: Losing faith in Rouhani, Iranian women ever defiant.
And this for the last forty years.
Iran-Tehran, April 2006
Iranians, men and women, are undoubtedly potty on football. The news is filled with details on local, regional, national and international leagues. The shoe size of a given footballer is known, his playing style is widely commented upon. It is difficult to beat an Iranian fan on the subject of the transfers of international players, their clubs and the number of goals or corners in a match.
The Islamic Republic has, for more than thirty years, carefully tried to separate men and women in public, not always successfully but more often than not at the expense of becoming the laughing stock of people. On the presence of women in stadiums, the Islamic Republic stubbornly holds his ground. No is no! No women, virgin or married, in the stadiums. According to the ayatollahs the question is of paramount importance for the survival of the country. The foundations of an Islamic society will certainly be shattered if a woman whistles, cheers and shouts Olé! in a stadium.
What? I must endure this trickster’s glower,
Usurping and abusing his tyrannical power?
And our time with pleasure we cannot spend,
If this beautiful sire does not deign to consent? (Molière: Le Tartuffe)
By contrast, the ayatollahs are not worried about the kids who rummage through the rubbish of exclusive neighbourhoods to feed themselves. For them, these kids are just cockroaches, Sousks, unworthy of applying the Sharia. We do not know when the number of these miserable wretches hit millions or how many died from cold last winter … in a country swimming in oil. To sum up the country is in ruin but it is a matter of great urgency to keep away women from stadiums.
The obsession of the ayatollahs on women’s issues is totally surrealist in the triangle of Sex – Football – Tartuffes. For them, wenches have to stay home, wipe baby’s bottom, cook for oblations (نذر) and hose down. Outside the house, women are the cause of lewdness in men. The shamelessness of the public statements of ayatollahs result in more than spicy jests among drunkards.
My aunt, Amah Aziz, would go to the stadium if she was not eighty two and full of arthritis. She has a frank but polished manner of speaking save when the ayatollahs fray her temper, which happens quite often:“May their graves be covered with spit, tof be gour-e âkhondhâ! May the Devil take them all! May god ruin their homes, khodâ khodesh khânashân râ kharâb konad!” For her women should be able to go to the stadium, as a matter of principle. Her son, trying to calm her down, is tactless enough to say: “With all those hooligans a football stadium is not really a place for ladies.” Amah Aziz chastised her brat of sixty years old by calling him son of âkhonds, batchah âkhond. In our days, this is far from a compliment.
Two or three days ago, Ahmadinejâd, the president, set the cat among the pigeons. He wanted women to be able to attend football matches and cheer their favourite teams.
Iran laughed out. My mobile phone rattled with SMS of jokes on women and football. Rarely of good taste, often salacious, they were aimed at the ayatollahs and their creature, Ahmadinejâd.
In a very short time, a well orchestrated polemic sparked off in the press, controlled by various factions of the Islamic Republic and by far the most pitiful papers. Many ayatollahs were against the presence of women. Others weighed up the pros and cons, but leaned towards the cons. The silent and disillusioned mass, the one that just dreams of getting rid of the ayatollahs and having fun in a good match, waited patiently for the end of the polemic not making much of Ahmadinejâd’s statements. “He is going to step back. All this is a show, it’s déjà-vu.”
Some ayatollahs, learned doctors of the Sharia, commented: “Even if women have no sexual pleasure in seeing the hairy bare legs of men, still, it cannot be endorsed by the Islamic morality.” A few exquisite pictures of league champions, stripped to the waist, wearing tights and beautifully suntanned were forwarded by MMS over the mobile phones with captions that left the most debauched speechless.
Other ayatollahs went on one better: “The gathering of men and women in stadiums is haram since it leads to debauchery.” X-rated SMSs and emails on Sex – Football – Tartuffes flew from all sides.
Cover your bosom. The flesh is weak.
Souls are forever hurt by such sights,
When sinful thoughts begin their evil flights.
It seems temptation makes a meal of you,
To turn you on, a glimpse of flesh will do.
Inside your heart, a furnace must be housed.
For me, I’m not easily aroused.
I could see you naked, head to toe
Never be tempted once, and this I know. (Molière, Le Tartuffe)
In the meanwhile, awaiting the ayatollahs’ last verdict, the managers of the stadiums remained very tactful using their common sense and experience, playing for time: “Right now, the stadiums have no facilities to welcome ladies, banouvan. The terraces have to be fitted out to preserve their dignity. We have to reconsider the booking system of seats; ladies should have their own reserved seating arrangement as it is in the mosques. Moreover, new latrines for ladies should be built. All this needs time and money.” Once again, the SMSs and emails on Sex-Football-Tartuffes-Toilettes flew in from all over.
The Iranian media kicked up a fuss with pretentious, knowledgeable and highly theological pieces on football and women. Reading the papers and watching the bigots in black hijab who added their own balderdash on the TV, I could figure the Good God laughing at the foolishness of mankind – and womankind.
After a twenty four hour lag, the international media were taking over the issue. It was as if the planet earth was idle, bikar, and had nothing better to do than trying to know if Iranian women were to have the permission of the ayatollahs to see live muscular and hairy legs going unrelentingly at a ball.
Jafar Panahi’s Offside
Curiously, perhaps by a well planned coincidence, the film of the Iranian director, Jafar Panahi, Offside, was released in Europe, but not in Iran where it was forbidden. The story was that of an Iranian girl disguised as a boy who went to see a match and was arrested by the guardians of the Islamic morality. I got emails from my friend in Europe: “Panahi defies the ayatollahs censorship! Hooray!”
My Iranian friends had a good laugh at the naivety of those in the West: “Honestly! Eybaba! They really think that Panahi directed, shot and smuggled out the movie just in time for the Berlin film festival, without anyone knowing at the ministry of the Islamic morality? He serves as a circuit-breaker to the Islamic Republic. The scenario is Islamically correct and in line with the Revolution. The film is forbidden in Iran just to serve as a foil to western intellectuals.
The Iranian papers merely made a brief mention of Panahi receiving, ex-æquo, the silver Bear. Shargh, a paper trying to get away from the dirty propaganda of the ayatollahs with pompous sentences and obscure hints, produced two laborious and unexciting paragraphs. It quoted Panahi’s speech in Berlin on receiving his prize: “An early precedent in banishing women from the stadium is found in antique Greece. Women were not allowed to attend sporting events, until 404 AD when a mother dressed as a man went to the stadium to see her son, a champion, performing.”
According to Panahi, due to this courageous feat stadiums were thereafter opened to women. Anyway, referring to antique Greece stories padded à l’iranienne to explain anything and everything with a touch of truth out of context, is very fashionable in Teheran. The movie Offside was not acclaimed by a frenzied audience in Iran, it was even not in the charts of DVDs sold clandestinely. DVD’s of very good quality were supplied from the Chinese market. Number one on the charts was Brokeback Mountain, a story of homosexuality in the United States.
The son of a cousin who refused to buy the DVD of Offside, was leaving for Europe. I asked him to go and see the movie and if it was not to his taste I promised to reimburse his ticket and refreshment. He was, for me, the typical profile of trendy urban youth: stylish, easygoing, with no store of cultural knowledge, crafty but intellectually lazy, full of life and kindness. Later, he said in an email that the mission had been carried out; the movie … Bah! I owed him fifteen euros. Sorry for all the waste because Panahi has talent.
Manipulating the Public
Blasé friends in Tehran commented on the triangle of Sex-Football-Tartuffes: Manipulation of public opinions by the Islamic Republic. The ayatollahs want to divert attention from something. From what? We don’t know. Perhaps to amuse us while they are getting on with rationing oil/gas, or, together with Hezbollahi, preparing a trick or two in Lebanon. What will be will be. Will be, perhaps, came along but nothing happened. The story deflated. Women, in company of their men and a large bowl of nuts and pistachios, stayed in front of the TV to watch the games live as it pleases dictatorship, with thirty to forty seconds pre-recorded to allow the possible intervention of censorship.
Ahmadinejâd continued to go about his business, namely, making populist speeches, long and monotonous, roosted behind a stand too high for his one point six metres. The sublime chic is to see his mug sticking out of large bouquets of gladioli and carnations.
The western media who did see in the episode of Sex-Football-Tartuffes a face to face between hard-liners and reformists, between a president elected democratically with universal suffrage (!) and radical elements, dropped the story. Would they, hopefully one day, absorb into their stubborn but simplistic conscience that an ayatollah is an ayatollah and stays ayatollah? They are all birds of a feather. Would media, for once, read the Iranian constitution to have a better view on the mechanisms of the Islamic Republic, that is to say that the President has less power than a foreman?
Mohammad Khâtami, the previous Iranian president, reformist for the westerner, champion of cosmetic alterations for the Iranian, could tell them volumes on the lack of power of the President. He might say that the President is an alibi, even a necessary evil for the State’s parades. Bu he will do nothing. He is an Shiite clergyman to the core, similar in the making to any ayatollah, even if he is good looking, well spoken and popular with the media. What counts in the politics of the Islamic Republic, is the principle of Velayat-e faqih. The Velayat-e faqih is a tyranny of divine right, a deviant copy of absolute monarchy. The twelve succeeding Imams of Shiites were fathers and sons.
The future will tell us when the office of the Supreme Guide will be transmitted from father to son and when the Velayat-e faqih will forsake the post of president alibi altogether.
According to people around me, to preserve the Islamic morality and to admit women in the stadiums, there is a very simple solution. Why let the players show off their muscular calves in light shorts, western style? They may wear baggy pants, extra-large long-sleeved shirts and a turban. Just imagine the turban coming off as the striker is in a goal scoring position, resulting in him getting a red card. For the necessary extra time to readjust the turban, FIFA could decree rules. My emails and SMS, full of jokes, asserted that money buys everything.
There is another solution, ever more straightforward, that does not imply a negotiation among bigots, Tartuffes, and FIFA: forbid football games, as the Very Christian, Theodosius the Great, forbade the Olympic games in 394AD. Some fifteen centuries had to go by before the games could be taken up again.
So the ayatollahs may declare football Haram once and for all. There must be some antiquated sentences in pidgin Arab to justify this ruling in accordance with the Sharia. Waiting the necessary fifteen centuries for the ban to be lifted, Iranians will get to grips with their frustration out of wont, and will adapt themselves to play football in their living room. To see the games on foreign TV channels, they will set up satellite receivers more powerful than today’s, thanks to commercial middlemen, mates to the ayatollahs.