Backlash after Jordan claims Iranian player is not a woman

Backlash after Jordan claims Iranian player is not a woman
Members of the football community have cut back at accusations by the Jordan Football Association alleging that a member of Iran’s national female football team is not a woman.

3 min read
16 November, 2021
Members of the football community have condemned Jordan’s accusations over the sex of an Iranian player [Getty]

Football experts have slammed allegations by Jordan that a member of the Iranian national female football team is not a woman. 

The Jordan Football Association (JFA) submitted a request to the AFC to investigate a player on Iran's women's team, believed to be goalkeeper Zohreh Koudaei, after Jordan lost a World Cup qualifier to Iran in a penalty shootout. 

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) was among those who have reportedly rejected the accusations, according to a sports news site.

"Per different sources the #AFC has slammed the Jordan allegations regarding Zoreh Koudaei... and approved she is a female," sports site babagol said on Monday. 

“[Iran’s] goalkeeper, has been a target for such allegations throughout the years,” they wrote on Twitter. 

The AFC told The New Arab that it "does not comment on ongoing investigations and/or proceedings, whether actual or potential".

JFA President Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein tweeted a letter to the AFC for the "Gender Verification" of a player in Iran's National Women’s Football Team on social media Saturday. 

The letter followed Jordan’s 4-2 defeat in penalties to the Iranian female football team, meaning Iran secured their place in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asia Cup. 

The JFA said an investigation was needed to "uphold the integrity of the game in Asia" and called on the AFC to "take appropriate measures if there is doubt on the eligibility of a participating player". 

The JFA told The New Arab on Tuesday that they are still waiting for an official response on the "Gender Verification", and gave no indication they were willing to drop the request. 

"JFA is still waiting to receive an official response on the investigation and to date no official response was received,” the JFA told The New Arab. 

“Please note that the tweet of JFA president is self-explanatory,” the JFA added. 

The JFA's letter also claimed Iran has a history of “gender and doping issues”. 

In 2015, eight players in the Iran women's football team were alleged to be men awaiting gender reassignment operations, according to an official close to the Iranian football league who briefed the media. 

There were allegations a year earlier that four players in the squad were men, and in 2010 questions were asked about the gender of the national team's goalkeeper. 

Members of the football community have condemned Jordan's accusations and spoken out in support of Koudaei, who was not named explicitly in the JFA's letter but has been named in multiple news reports. 

"We were teammates and I practically lived with her [Koudaei] for 8 years. She's one of my closest friends - y’all should get to know her. Also, she’s always been talented in saving penalties," Kat Khosrowyar, former head coach of the Iranian National Women Football team, wrote on social media.

Maryam Irandoost, the team's current head coach, was quoted in the media as saying that the allegations were "an excuse not to accept defeat". 

Each team member has been checked by medical staff, Irandoost said.