Did Iran Play a Man as a Goalkeeper for Their Women's National Football Team?

Jordan accused Iran of playing a man as a goalkeeper during the Asian Cup qualifier in September.

Jordan accused Iran's national women's football team of playing a man as their goalkeeper during the September Asian Cup qualifier. The accusations came after Iran's 4-2 shoot-out victory in the tournament two months ago. The Jordan Football Association (JFA) has called upon the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to launch a probe to determine the sex of the goalkeeper, Zohreh Koudaei. JFA president, Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, in a letter to the AFC requested a "gender verification check" on Koudaei, who was seen wearing a 'hijab' during the tournament in September.

Iran team's selector, Maryam Irandoost, however, dissed the allegation and stated it was a ruse to cover up for Jordan's loss. "The medical staff have carefully examined each player on the national team in terms of hormones to avoid any problems in this regard, and so I tell all fans not to worry," Irandoost told news site Varzesh3 on Sunday, November 14. "We will provide any documentation that the Asian Confederation of Football wishes without wasting time."

Zohreh Koudaei
Zohreh Koudaei Screen grab - Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

'Iranian women's team has a history with gender issues'

Hussein, on the other hand, described it as "a very serious issue if true." The JFA's letter expressed doubts over the "eligibility of a participating player' and alleged that the Iranian women's team "has a history with gender and doping issues" and requested AFC to take appropriate measures if there is doubt on the eligibility of a participating player

"Given the importance of this competition, we request the AFC to initiate 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 said.

'Jordan is covering up defeat'

Irandoost said that Jordan is covering up defeat by seeking "relief under false pretences." "These allegations are just an excuse not to accept the defeat against the Iranian women's national team," she said. "The Jordanian team considered themselves the big favourite to qualify... and when they lost... it was natural to seek relief under false pretences and to escape responsibility for this failure." According to Saudi broadcaster, Al Arabiya, Zohreh Koudaei has faced questions on her gender in the past as well. The AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 is set to take place in India in January.

Zohreh Koudaei (in black)
Zohreh Koudaei (in black) Screen grab - Anadolu Agency via Getty Images