The alpine ski coach has experienced the last case of discrimination by Iranian laws in the World Cup this weekend.
Samira Zargari is the coach of the Iranian women’s alpine ski team. This weekend he should have been in Cortina d’Ampezzo, an Italian town in the province of Belluno, in the Veneto region of northern Italy. Due to its location, in the heart of the Dolomite Alps, it is an idyllic place for alpine skiing and other winter sports.
The world championships of this sport were being held there this weekend and Samira Zargari has not been able to travel with the rest of her team, the Iranian women’s ski team for a reason that is hard to believe in the 21st century. Her husband and her country have prevented him from fulfilling his dream of leading her team at such an important event.
Faced with this irrevocable situation, Samira had to stay in Iran without being able to travel, being replaced by Marjan Kalhor. However, her case has raised great controversy in her country from sectors that still dare to protest against the Islamic laws that govern the state.
The ordeal that Zargari has suffered practically in silence is the latest case of repression and discrimination against women that has been seen in Iran, but it is not the only one, since the history of Iranian sport is marked by other cases and similar acts that they show the rest of the world behaviors that are really shameful and degrading.
The worst of all is that to Samira, no one will be able to return the pride and honor of having represented his country and his team, his girls, in an event such as a World Cup, one of the biggest sporting events on the ski calendar. Alpine. Not even her supposed weight in the ski federation, thanks to her position as her national coach, has helped her to obtain some type of permission to resolve this conflict that threatens human and rights and against people’s freedom. .
This is the law
Samira Zargari has maintained until the last moment the hope of being freed from her ‘punishment’ and from her ‘yoke’ to fulfill something that did not cease to be her mission and her work. However, the backward and archaic code that governs the state of Iran has not even allowed her to perform a function for which she charges money. And all because of a law that continues in the 21st century and that is a real scandal.
This law says that an Iranian woman who is married will not be able to obtain a passport or travel abroad if she is not with the express consent
so of her husband. That is, they need the permission of their spouse to be able to travel and leave Iran even if it is for work reasons, within a group as recognizable as that of the state’s own alpine ski federation and in a situation of total control, first due to the strictness of the country and then due to the sanitary conditions in which all the competitions take place.
If traveling, Samira Zargari could have had almost no option had she left the expedition of the Iran alpine ski team. However, not even in the face of this scenario, has her husband agreed to give her the freedom that the law leaves to her choice. As this rule is established, the husband decides how, when and where her partner travels without any possibility that she can reverse a situation that is unfortunate and that can have consequences as insulting as the one that Samira has suffered. A totally unjustified and meaningless ordeal.
This case, the ordeal that Samira Zargari is suffering with all the media hype that has been created around her and that has only put her at the center of the anger of those who continue to protect these laws, is not the first, nor unfortunately it will be the last, which happens in Iran. This legislative code, more understandable although equally unjust in past times, has already claimed some illustrious victims.
A repeat offender country
One of the most notorious cases that have occurred in similar terms is the one that took place in 2015 and which had as its protagonist, a highly prestigious soccer player in Iran who had been called up to play the Asian Games in Malaysia. On that occasion, as happened to Samira, Niloufar’s husband forbade her to travel to play this championship.
The seriousness and inconsistency of this rule is that Iran is capable of harming its sporting successes and its own interests just by enforcing a rule that is really shameful, even in its own championships like those Asian Games. On that occasion, the culprit of such a scandal was Mehdi Tutunchi, the husband of Niloufar Ardalan. In his plea, or rather, in his excuse, to exercise this power that the Iranian laws give to men, Mehdi assured that his wife could not travel to Malaysia to compete in a championship and in such an important event because the sporting event it coincided with her son’s first day of school.
The embarrassment suffered after this decision was such that just a few months later, Mehdi Tutunchi, a well-known presenter of a sports space on television, saw a court withdraw the prohibition of the athlete to travel abroad for the dispute of sports competitions, being able to compete in the future in other competitions. However, those Asian Games went to limbo just like the Alpine Ski World Championships for Samira Zargari.
The demand for aid
For these types of cases, such as those suffered by Samira Zargari or Niloufar Ardalan, the presence of organizations and institutions that truly defend women with useful and verifiable facts and not with cheap words from the West are required.
On that occasion, Niloufar ended up finding the support of a court that allowed him to continue her career beyond the borders of her dark country. However, now no one has managed to help Zargari. Only sectors critical of this type of legislative torture have been able to raise their voice minimally so that this case is already known and studied throughout the world.
The cruelty of the situation of the national alpine ski coach has been so palpable that not even the Iranian ski federation has wanted to speak out about it. Logically, being an entity that ultimately depends on the government, they have not even dared to question this type of measure. On the other hand, from Europe, neither the organization in charge of carrying out the world championships nor the different world organizations that govern this sport have dared to speak out against injustices.
Many asked that what happened should have been similar to what happened in 2019 with the existing prohibition for women not to access sports venues to watch men’s competitions. However, FIFA demanded that year that women who wanted to be able to enter the Azadi Stadium in Tehran freely to watch a match between the Iran and Cambodia teams corresponding to the Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualification.
This age-old ban was temporarily lifted thanks to the action of FIFA, which threatened to disqualify Iran from the contest if it did not allow women in the game. Perhaps, a measure as drastic as this one by the institutions would have solved this serious problem.