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Samira Zargari, a coach of the Iranian alpine ski team, was unable to attend the world championships held in Italy. Her husband, from whom she is separated, has forbidden her to leave the country.
The Iranian women’s alpine ski team had to do without one of its coaches during the Worlds organized in Italy. Samira Zargari could not leave her country because her husband prevented her from doing so as the law of the country allows.
Instead of being near her skiers, the 37-year-old gave them directions over the phone. Samira Zargari called them three times on Thursday as they competed in the giant slalom, before the race, between heats and after the competition. “I am always proud of all Iranian women,” said the coach in a message exchanged with the AP agency. “I love them”.
This is happening in the 21st century!
Samira Zargari, Head coach of Iran’s ski team, wasn’t allowed to accompany her team to the tournament in Italy. You know why?
Her husband didn’t give her permission. In Iran women need the permission of male guardians to leave the country pic.twitter.com/WL49tmc9SW
– Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) February 17, 2021
The sportswoman, who had notably coached the Iranian team during the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018, is separated from her husband who is currently in a relationship with her best friend. After five years of marriage, he filed for divorce. “I didn’t want to and he blocked me,” said Samira Zargari, adding that he always made fun of his work and his team.
Under Iranian law, spouses can prevent their wives from traveling abroad. “I am so sad. I can not believe it”, summarized the coach who wants to launch a campaign to change the legislation.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) reacted to this affair by declaring its empathy for “any member of a team [ne pouvant] get to the Worlds. However, the FIS is not in a position to challenge the laws of a country.
The fight of Iranian sportswomen
According to Abbasi, one of Samira Zargari’s team, this situation is not new: “We have had this problem before, but I hope we can change it for all women in Iran. We are trying. “. In 2015, soccer player Niloufar Ardalan previously missed the Asian futsal championship after her husband confiscated her passport after an argument.
Women’s sport has largely disappeared in Iran since the Islamic revolution of 1979. At the same time, it has also grown in popularity, especially football. To participate, the players must wear the scarf on the field.
Abbasi, one of the eight members of the Iranian team (four women and four women) to compete in the Cortina Worlds, claims to be free to drive, travel and compete in Iran. However, she admits that the authorities prevented her from taking certain jobs and that she had to work as a ski instructor to continue her career: “In Iran, maybe one in 1,000 women has problems. our coach is a free woman. She has traveled all over the world all the time. But this time it happened. But I’m sure that will change. “
“I really want to stay in Iran and change the legislation, not just for women, but anything that holds back athletes,” she adds. “Men can’t buy equipment. It’s the same for everyone.”