Middle East

Iran lodges counter-complaint against Jordan regarding player's gender

Jordan called for probe into gender of Iran’s women’s national football goalkeeper

Syed Zafar Mehdi   | 23.11.2021
Iran lodges counter-complaint against Jordan regarding player's gender


Iran's football federation lodged an official complaint Monday against Jordan with the sport's continental governing body concerning a controversy regarding a player's gender. 

The Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) said in a statement that it filed a complaint against the Jordan Football Association (JFA) with the disciplinary and ethics committee of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

It said the complaint was in response to the JFA's protest against the Iranian women's national team and a demand for an investigation into a player's gender.

The federation did not divulge details about the complaint.

The controversy has dominated the headlines in recent weeks with both sides trading barbs and the JFA refusing to back down.

On Sept. 25, an underdog Iran defeated favorite Jordan in a penalty shootout 4-2 to qualify for their first Women's Asia Cup.

The historic win was credited to Iran's burly goalkeeper, Zohreh Koudaei, who guided her side with two crucial saves.  

Doubts over gender

Almost two months later, Jordan dropped a bombshell, claiming that Koudaei was not a woman, and called for a "gender verification check.”

After raising the issue informally with the AFC, the governing body for football in Jordan sent an official protest letter to the AFC on Nov. 5, casting doubts about Koudaei's gender and accusing Iran of "a history with gender and doping issues."

It called for a "transparent and clear investigation by a panel of independent medical experts to investigate the eligibility of the player in question and others on the team.”

The letter was shared on Twitter by Ali Bin Al-Hussein, the head of JFA and a member of Jordan's royal family.  

Strong umbrage

Taking umbrage to JFA's complaint, Iranian women's football coach Maryam Irandoost last week said speculation about the gender of the team’s goalkeeper was "an excuse for not accepting the defeat" against Iran.

Backing her star player, Irandoost said it was "natural" for the Jordanians to "escape responsibility for the defeat," slamming the move by the JFA to write to the AFC's disciplinary and ethics committee.

She said the team’s management had been meticulous about medical tests of players and the medical staff had "carefully examined each and every player for hormones and testosterone tests."

There have also been unconfirmed reports about Koudaei threatening to sue Jordan's football federation regarding the issue.

Meanwhile, 31-year old Koudaei, who hails from southern Ahvaz city, has received tremendous support at home with banners and hoardings in different cities hailing her as a "champion girl."

The 2022 AFC Women's Asia Cup will be held in India in January, with Iran making its first appearance. All eyes will be on Koudaei, if she clears the AFC investigation.

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