Eight of Iran’s women’s football team are actually men awaiting sex change operations.
The country’s football association was accused of being “unethical” for knowingly fielding eight men in its women’s team.
“Eight players have been playing with Iran’s female team without completing sex change operations,” said Mojtabi Sharifi, an official close to the Iranian league.
On Wednesday, authorities reportedly ordered gender testing of the entire national squad and leading league players. The names of the players thought to be male were not revealed.
The Iranian women’s team play in hijab headscarfs, long-sleeved tops and tracksuit bottoms.
In 2014, the country’s football governing body introduced random checks after it was revealed that four national team players were either men who had not completed sex change operations, or were suffering from sexual development disorders.
In 2010, doubts were raised about the gender of the team’s goalkeeper.
Football is highly popular among many Iranian women, despite religious rules that bar them from entering stadiums to watch matches between male teams.
Earlier this month the women’s national team captain was unable to fly with the squad to Malaysia because her husband refused her permission to fly.
Players of Iran’s women national football team Photo: GETTY IMAGES
“As a Muslim woman, I wanted to work for my country’s flag to be raised [at the games], rather than traveling for leisure and fun,” Niloufar Ardalan, 30, said at the time.
“I wish authorities would create [measures] that would allow female athletes to defend their rights in such situations.”