Not One Of The Boys: Why Men and Woman Can't...Play Soccer?

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst IJanuary 31, 2009

Imagine ladies, if you will, a land in which there are laws prohibiting you from holding any kind of public office.

A country where you can only obtain a passport if your husband allows you to.

A place where, if you don't wear a veil over your head, your government will subject you to "74 strokes of the lash."

For women in America, such rules are unheard of. But for the women of Iran—and other Muslim countries—these harsh rules, and others like it, are part of everyday life.

To add to it, women can't even play co-ed soccer.

There hadn't been a mixed soccer game in the country since 1979, when the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had the shah overthrown during the Islamic Revolution. Ayatollah rid the country of a pro-western foreign policy, and put clerics as heads of state, as dictated by Islamic jurists (the Velayat-e faqih).

Basically, strict Islamic beliefs were instated as laws. Equal rights for women in an Islamic country are about as rare as...well, I simply don't know what to compare it to. It just rarely happens.

The first co-ed soccer game since the revolution was held January 20, and was between the female Iranian soccer club and a youth male team from Tehran, who defeated the women 7-0.

One radio station in Iran called the game "historic."

Coaches and officials, however, planned on keeping the historic game a secret, until cellphone footage of the event was leaked.

The big deal? Islamic law have extremely strict rules about women coming into contact with men with whom they are not married or related to. Islamic females are also banned from attending men's soccer games, though there was an attempt in 2006 to change that.

Coaches and officials were fined up to 50 million rials (about $5,000) and many suspended, including the head coach for the women's team, Saeedeh Pournader. A male coach has been suspended for six months.

Thanks to the Associated Press,...Because I Played Sports, and Yahoo! Geocities for the information used in this article.