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The Zohreh Koudaei Story: Sports, Gender, Beauty Standers, and Misogyny

The Zohreh Koudaei Story: Sports, Gender, Beauty Standers, and Misogyny

The internet is full of surprises and memes. The memes now don’t even need an effort to be made. Regular everyday news is the new memes. One piece of news that found its way into the world of memes was that Iran’s goalkeeper for the women’s football team, Zohreh Koudaei, is, in fact, a man.

Spoiler alert: She’s a woman!

But why was this even a topic of conversation?

Here’s what Happened? 

Jordan’s football women team failed to qualify for the 2022 Asian Nations Championship; they lost against Iran after heading to penalties, and they just couldn’t accept their loss. 

The Jordan Football Association, whose president is Prince Ali bin Al Hussein published a statement directed toward Asian Football Confederation (AFC.)

The statement included a request that AFC launches an investigation to check the gender of the Iranian’s goalkeeper. 

The Zohreh Koudaei Story: Sports, Gender, Beauty Standers, and Misogyny

Why would they do that? 

After the game reached penalties, the Iranian women’s team won by 4-2, which was attributed to Iran’s goalkeeper’s outstanding performance.

When the Iranian women’s team’s players started celebrating their victory and qualifying for the 2022 Asian Nations Championship qualifiers, the veil of Iran’s goalkeeper was slightly removed, which made her hair show and because of its “short length,” “the size of her body,” and “her facial features,” etc.

So the Jordan Football Association believed that she was a man.  

Yes, Jordan’s Football Association has petitioned a formal complaint to request a gender verification of an Iranian player after its women’s team lost to the Iranian team, casting doubt whether Iran’s goalkeeper is a man or a woman.

Iran’s goalkeeper is Zohreh Koudaei, a 32-year-old woman from Khuzestan province. 

The truth? 

Yesterday, the AFC replied to the Jordan Football Association by announcing that Iran’s goalkeeper is a female. 

Today, Jordan’s Football Association is still not convinced that she’s a woman.

The many things that are wrong with what happened: 

We can’t even begin to say the many ugly actions that happened in this situation. From its beginning to how the media and people reacted to the news and how it ended, we can see that many things need to be changed in people’s personalities in the Middle East.

  1. Misogyny: We can’t ignore the amount of misogyny and disrespect that the Jordan Football Association showed. Was it really “concern” that led them to complain or was it “an excuse so that they don’t accept their defeat in front of the Iranians?” As Maryam Irandoost, the head coach of Iran’s national team, stated. 

We must again mention that Zohreh Koudaei’s performance played a significant role in Jordan’s defeat. 

  1. The media: From the moment news about Jordan’s accusation started circulating, almost all media and news platforms took the news and made it look like a fact instead of an accusation. 

The media should be held accountable for presenting the “accusation” because they started a wave of bullying directed toward Zohreh Koudaei.

  1. People’s reactions: We can’t blame the media without also criticizing how people reacted to the news. 

Even if most platforms treated it as a fact and said that Zohreh Koudaei was a man instead of saying that it was just an accusation, people should have refused Jordan Football Association’s statement.

They should have attacked how these news platforms described the situation as “funny.” But, instead of doing that, most people made fun of Zohreh Koudaei and how she looked. They even made theories about why she must be a “man.”

This situation should make us ask ourselves for how long women would be treated as “men” just because they don’t meet society’s expectations of how a woman should look like?

For how long men and women would be united in bullying these women who don’t meet society’s expectations? 

The most important question is why newspapers and media must mention that Zohreh Koudaei’s voice is feminine, so she is a woman instead of judging how the people reacted and how Jordan’s Football Association’s claim was disrespectful? 

We are still waiting for a day to come when women aren’t judged and bullied by how they look. 

What do you think?


Written by Salma Ahmed

Hi!! I'm Salma and I'm still a college student majoring in English. I love writing and each day I try to get better at doing it.

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