April 6 is recognized as International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. On this day in 1896, the first modern summer Olympics was hosted by Greece. By designating this day, the United Nations has recognized sport as a fundamental right for all people. The United Nations views sport as a powerful tool for strengthening ties among a nation and promoting the aspirations of peace, brotherhood, solidarity, nonviolence and justice in the world. However, this fundamental right is denied to women in Iran. The Iranian regime systematically and in various ways restricts women’s sports. Women athletes in Iran are subject to the highest pressure and limitations.
Lack of public and private sponsors for women’s sports
Women’s sports teams and female athletes do not have any governmental or private support.
One of the reasons for the lack of sponsorship of women’s sports teams is the prohibition of television broadcasts and producing photos and reports from their competitions.
Shahnaz Yari, the head coach of the female Sepidrood futsal team in Tehran said, “Sponsors want to be seen. Otherwise, they would not fund (any team), and this is one of the most basic problems that have made things difficult for women’s futsal teams.”
During the 2018 football league, 14 teams were supposed to participate, but the number of teams first reduced to 11 due to lack of sponsors who finance the teams. (The state-run ISNA news agency – August 8, 2018)
Economic problems and lack of government support prevented many futsal teams from competing in this year’s league. As a result, the start of the league had to be postponed.
The head coach of the Sherkat Melli Haffari Futsal Club, Zivar Babaii said, ” They call it the professional league, but nothing is professional. You can see this unprofessionalism in a wide range of issues including the stadiums where the games are held and the contracts. When we say professional, it means that this is my profession and this is how I earn my salary, but this is not what happens in Iran.” (The state-run ISNA news agency – August 12, 2018)
Sometimes, the teams are dissolved all together, due to lack of sponsors. At other times, the teams do not have the funds to travel to another city to take part in the tournaments.
Professional female athletes do not receive salaries and gold medal winners are abandoned to earn their living by peddling in the streets, selling pickles, and farming.
Sports facilities for women’s sports
The league of women’s football teams in Iran faces sub-standard conditions for the winter games even in the capital, Tehran. This shortage has added to the problems and games cannot be held regularly and with good quality.
In one of the women’s games in West Azerbaijan, the field was covered with snow causing several hours of delay in the game.
The game between two other teams in Tehran was delayed because the field had been covered with rain water and snow. The quality of field was very bad and the players were covered with mud and they had to change their official uniform after the first half-time.
Hajar Khorassani, supervisor of the women’s football team of Isfahan’s Steel Company had an interview with ISNA news agency. She said, “The quality of the field was not good at all. When my players stepped into the field, they plunged into mud and could hardly pull out their feet. Who would account if the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) of one of the players gets injured? I would have never imagined that we would face such a field in Tehran.”
The women’s national volleyball team of Iran practice with their own sportswear and do not receive any support from the Sports Federation. (The state-run ISNA news agency – April 25, 2018)
The Iranian women’s rowing team exercises in black water. All around the exercise area is covered with sharp shells which injure the athletes. For group exercises, the athletes have to buy their own ores which should be provided by the rowing delegation. The boat given to the Iranian women’s rowing team is one that was being used ten years ago in Tehran and has been repeatedly repaired.
Despite such deplorable conditions and lack of any government or any other form of support, the highly motivated Iranian women challenge all problems and gain champion titles in Asia despite obstructions of the misogynistic regime.