Women end up next-to-last in futsal championship.
The Iranian women's futsal team came in next-to-last in the Women's Futsal World Tournament played in Guatemala last week.
Futsal is soccer played on an indoor field of reduced size.
In the tournament, eight national teams were divided into two groups. Iran lost all three of its games in the group stage. Then it played the last-placed team in the other group, beating Japan 2-1.
The most notable point was that the two last-placed team were the two Asian teams in the competition. Both went winless in the group stage and showed Asia to be the weakest continent in futsal as well as in soccer.
Brazil won the Cup--as it has all five previous editions of this competition. Brazil beat Russia 3-0 to take the gold with Spain beating Portugal 9-1 for third place and Costa Rica beating host Guatemala 2-1 for fifth place.
In the group stage, Iran lost to Portugal 3-0, to Brazil 6-0 and to Costa Rica 2-1.
Iran's sole goal of the group stage was scored by Niloufar Ardalani, the team captain who had to go to court to win an exit visa since her husband had refused to sign the required paperwork.
Team coach Forouzan Soleymani said, "We were completely exhausted from the 85hour trip," which included a stopover in Europe and then another in Mexico City to obtain Guatemalan visas.
Futsal is recognized by FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, but the Women's Futsal World Tournament is not sanctioned or organized by FIFA.
The Tico Times reported that the Iranian tam, wearing its special uniforms that cover everything from hair to ankles, sparked a great deal of curiosity and admiration from locals. It also said that the paramedic squad that attended the tournament made a point of recruiting a group of female paramedics. "We brought a group of women paramedics in case the Iranian team needed treatment, as we were told they cannot have contact with men for religious reasons," paramedic Jorge Borrayo told the newspaper.
The problem Ardalani had in leaving the country has prompted calls for changes in the law giving husbands the final say on foreign travel. The law actually dates to 1964, long before the revolution. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) noted that some women are insisting on a clause in their marriage contracts under which the husband gives the power of attorney to his wife for passport purposes.