Red or Blue?!
Date: 2008/12/18  Akram Minuei/ Edited by: Rochelle Terman 

     When I was a child, my sister used to buy a magazine called Fanoos and my father would buy a newspaper called Esteghlal Javan. At the time, soccer was a much discussed issue in my family. In school, also, all the students gathered around to discuss their favorite teams. Although we were girls, we never missed watching a game in the national league or international competitions. I remember my father would wake up in the morning to go to the stadium with his friends, and I begged him to take me with him. But he replied, “You cannot come with us because you are a girl…!”

     In high school, when sports were taken even more seriously, we always asked the question: Of all the sports that exist, why can we as young women choose from only volleyball, tennis, basketball, or badminton? So we constantly complained to our gym teacher, asking why we couldn’t play soccer, wrestling or biking…

     Boys were always surprised when I talked to them about soccer. For example, I was aware that David Bekham has been transferred from Manchester to Real Madrid, or I knew Iran defeated Korea with 6 goals, or I could even analyze and interpret the game. My in-depth sports knowledge surprised my male peers. 

     I watch all the domestic and foreign matches and I listen to sports news twice a day. My father and I analyzed the most important sports updates. I eagerly waited for Monday to arrive so that I can watch the 90, a weekly TV show with Adel Ferdosipur as program host. By the way, why do we never have a woman reporter!?

     On Thursday and Fridays, when league matches were held, I could never resist crying! Why could I not go to the stadium with my father and my brother? What was the difference between them and me? I love soccer, too. It was me who played soccer with my little brother in the yard, even while my mother got angry at times and tears apart the ball. I always yearned to play soccer with the boys in the alley, but all I could do was hide behind the window and watch them play.

     It really annoys me whenever I hear that soccer is only for men and girls should not be allowed to play, only watch.

     I have a picture of my favorite team on the wall in my room. I buy sport papers every day. When I go to the paper stand I read all the sports headlines and I hear the boys say, “Bravo, she is a fan of soccer, too,” and ask me: “are you a red or blue fan?” I would eagerly respond, “Come on, please take me to the stadium with you!”

     After years of following soccer, it is now important to me to know who is reporting the game, how the game is arranged, whether they are playing in striking or defending style, or who the referee is. My father and I get in arguments over whether it was offside or not. I am surprised when I find out that Ali Karimi has been invited to the national team but he refuses to play. I feel devastated when our national team loses in world cup matches.    

I long to go to the stadium, sit on the chair, watch the game, eat roasted seeds, swear and wave my hands in a Mexican wave.

In order to accomplish my goal, I became a member of a group called “The White Scarves”. In June 2004 when the Iran-Bahrain game was held in Azadi stadium, we went to the stadium and sat in front of the doors, relentlessly protesting until we could finally enter the stadium during the second half. There were about thirty of us and we were all wearing white scarves.

     Women are not allowed enter soccer stadiums. They are denied a basic right of every citizen, regardless of gender. Sports are for fun, health, and happiness.


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