The Iranian women’s football team reached Hazra Shehjalal International Airport in Dhaka on Thursday. The 32-member team flew all the way from Iran to Bangladesh for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers which is a biannual football competition for national teams that belong to the Asian Football Confederation.
The Iranian team’s coach is Helena Margarida dos Santos e Costa who is a Portuguese football manager. Football is a very popular sport in Iran and due to the massive interest of women in the sport; the women there were able to play on an international level.
The Iranian women’s team is the first foreign team to arrive in Bangladesh for the group matches which are all set to begin on May 21 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. The next teams to reach the capital are the Philippines and Thailand teams. Bangladesh will face Iran on May 23.
For the Iranian footballers this tournament is indeed is a positive development. Iran has had a history of bans and restrictions imposed by international sports institutions on its various women’s teams primarily because of the full body strip which includes the head scarf. In the Islamic Republic of Iran the law requires women to cover their hair and bodies in public.
In 2011, FIFA imposed a ban on the Iranian women’s football team over their headscarves which was later lifted in 2012. This time around there have been no restrictions whatsoever and the team has reached Dhaka for the AFC tournament in high spirits.