Barred from stadiums at home, Iran women travel to World Cup to play for pride
Tunisia’s Safaa Fathi and Samia Sohrati have both become world-class players, and are the first Iranians to make it to the World Cup. Here, they explain how they hope the tournament helps bring Iran’s women’s soccer team to a proper place in the global game
The Iranian women’s national team has been a work in progress for years.
It is the team that many see as the first to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in two different FIFA Women’s World Cups. But the team’s performance in the Asian champions’ league in 2008 and the 2011 FIVB World League was below par, as they finished fourth in the FIVB World League.
This year, they’re hoping to be a lot better. They are scheduled to play an exhibition match against the Bosnia and Herzegovina women’s national team as part of the Asian group at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France from June 28 to July 10. That match will be played in Paris Stadium on June 28, while the final group match will be played at the Meiji Jingu Stadium in Chiba Prefecture on July 4.
At the moment, the federation (FIFA) has not granted Iran a place in the team’s training camp. “We haven’t had a proper training camp for a long time; we have not been able to attend practice in the past. The reason we haven’t been able to practice is because of the Iranian Football Federation sanctions. We hope that in the future the Iranian Football Federation recognizes our performance,” said Samia Sohrati, a defender.
The women’s soccer team is being led by coach Mehrdad Shirzad, who has a lengthy experience of coaching women’s football. He has been working with the women’s national team since 2003 and won the Iranian Super League title in 2007, 2009 and 2011, when he was also coaching at the Iranian Premier League. This year, Shirzad coached three times in the Asian Champions League and won with Persepolis the title of the first place for the tournament’s winner.
At the last two Asian