Sunday Blog: I’m going to have a ‘rest day’ when Iran play Nigeria in the World Cup

As I tend to plan my life only a week or two in advance (don’t ask why), I’ve just realised that the World Cup starts in 18 days time. As I’m also one of those saddos who loves to pin a World Cup wall chart on the fridge or something, and I don’t have one yet (a wall chart, I mean – not a fridge – I do have a fridge), I’ve been on the FIFA and BBC Sport websites to work out when Spain, England, Holland, Germany and even Brazil play (it’s a multi-cultural family thing), and all the permutations of who might play who in the quarter finals, and then the semi-finals, and then the final, and where I might be to watch it all, with a mojito or two, and what FIFA has decided will be my ‘rest days’.

I’m also going to have a ‘rest day’ when Iran play Nigeria, which is Mon 16th June.

Actually, I’m also going to have a ‘rest day’ when Iran play Bosnia-Hercegovina, too. And when Bosnia-Hercegovina play Nigeria. It’s a bit of a ‘non’ group, ‘Group F’, if you ask me. I can only imagine that the ‘F’ must stand for … What The F?’ group. Bosnia-Hercegovina, Iran, Nigeria and … wait for it … Argentina.  I mean, it’s not exactly the most stimulating or friendliest of groups, is it?

Apparently in the build up to the World Cup, there are also going to be some ‘international friendlies’ next week, including Iran v Angola, and Montenegro v Iran …

I can’t really imagine Iran playing an international friendly at anything.

Only last week, award-winning Iranian actress Leila Hatami sparked outrage amongst ‘Iran conservatives’ for giving the president of the Cannes Film Festival a peck on the cheek, where she was a member of the jury. Her “inappropriate presence” in Cannes apparently flouted Iranians’ “chastity”. According to the Iranian website, Tasnim News, a group of Hizbullah Students with close ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, has even called for Hatami to be publicly flogged for the kiss.

So the reason I’m going to have a ‘rest day’ when Iran play Nigeria is that I can’t see it as being much fun, to be honest. No penalty shoot-outs, surely? No kissing, hugging – possibly no long hair, painted faces, diving, spitting, singing, chanting, clapping or punching the air … anything that might provoke a public flogging or being stoned to death. I mean, I don’t know for sure, maybe I’m ignorant … but it’s the impression I have.

Writing this, I decided to investigate if Iran have a women’s football team. They do. But apparently Iranian women footballers are required to undergo mandatory gender-testing after it was last revealed that four players in the national women’s team were ‘not completely female’.

Not completely female? I could say that about one or two players in England’s national male squad, too – that they’re not completely female, but that they’re not completely male, either.

Anyway, sex change operations have been legal in Iran since 1979, which contrasts with the country’s otherwise strict laws regarding sexual morality under the nation’s Sharia code, which forbids homosexuality and pre-marital sex, among other things – and obviously kissing someone on the red-carpet at Cannes.

Football is immensely popular in Iran among both men and women, although I also read that women are not able to attend games between male teams. Concerns about the sex of players first emerged four years ago, when one women’s team ‘raised suspicions about the goalkeeper on an opposing team’.

Well … I have many  ‘suspicions’ about many European goalkeepers, too – but I won’t go in to all that right now.

Happy Sunday!

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