For f**ks sake ref, thats an obvious foul

Back in the days when I played kick-it-and-hope football with the lads in my area and fancied myself a new Clive Walker (a temporarily promising Chelsea left-winger in about 1977), I never really thought about playing football with girls.

They weren’t around anyway – they were probably giving sweaty, bone-thin, acne-ridden teenagers like me a wide berth.

It wasn’t a case of girls not being allowed to play football with us.  It was simply that in those “Life On Mars” days of my 70s childhood (yeah, I’m pretty old!) the sexes didn’t mix. At least not until we were 16 or 17 (or about 24 in my case).

Women’s football hasn’t exactly taken off since those unlamented days (there aren’t too many women players in the Premiership) but women are part of the modern world of football. Owners, chairs, fans. There are girls’ and women’s leagues. It’s not all WAGs!

Which brings me to Iran. Where football (like almost everywhere else) is big and women are not allowed to attend matches. And guess what happens if a talented all-women’s outfit (women’s teams do exist) tries to play a male team – in fact the team that’s currently one of the best in the Iranian league? Answer: they get banned from playing in the future for this unwarranted “mixing” of the sexes. Check out Finktank’s excellent post on this and the wider situation of women and football in Iran.

Finktank mentions the Suffragette-like activities of women who defy the bans on women at stadia by disguising themselves as men to get in. One woman called Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, who defied the ban in 2005, ended up with a broken leg after guards used violence to force her and about 100 other women back through the ground’s gates.

Women’s rights are seriously under attack now in Iran, something Amnesty women’s expert stresses in a Comment is Free post. She mentions that it’s a year ago this week that Iran’s one and only women’s magazine was forced to close down, yet another kick in the teeth for women’s rights from the increasingly women-intolerant Iranian authorities.

I’m tempted to appeal to the ref about all this foul play In Iran but somehow I think the “ref” in this case is secretly playing for the other team.

So football/human rights fans of the world unite. Support the very brave Iranian women’s rights movement the Campaign For Equality and – to coin a phrase – let’s kick misogyny out of Iranian society.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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