TEHRAN: Iran rejected on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) as “unfair” a decision by volleyball’s governing body to ban the country from hosting international tournaments as long as women are barred from watching men’s games.
The international volleyball federation FIVB announced its decision on Sunday, a week after a British-Iranian woman, Ghoncheh Ghavami, was reportedly jailed by a Tehran court for trying to attend a match.
An Iranian judiciary official denied on Monday that Ghavami was sentenced to jail, saying her trial had not yet finished.
Ghavami was detained on June 20 at Azadi (“Freedom” in Farsi) Stadium where Iran’s national volleyball team was to play Italy, after female fans and even women journalists were told they would not be allowed to attend, leading to a brief demonstration.
She was released within hours but was rearrested days later at a police station she had visited to reclaim items confiscated from her near the stadium.
Iran’s volleyball federation said Sunday the FIVB had informed it that the country would not be able to organise the under-19 world championships in 2015, awarding the tournament instead to Argentina.
The FIVB will “not give Iran the right to host any future FIVB directly controlled events such as World Championships, especially under age, until the ban on women attending volleyball matches is lifted,” a spokesman for the international body told Agence France-Presse.
But the president of Iran’s volleyball federation said he had yet to receive any official confirmation of a FIVB ban.
“We haven’t received any letter from the FIVB concerning the change of host nation” for the tournament, Mohammad Reza Davarzani told Agence France-Presse on Monday.
“We have had no official announcement on the decision to ban Iran from organizing international competitions. If that is the case we will file an official complaint,” he added.
Davarzani said Ghavami’s case was not related to volleyball and “to make a connection between a non-sporting activity and our sport is unfair”.
Iran’s volleyball team is one of the best in the world and very popular at home.
It finished 6th in this year’s World Championships in Poland and 4th at the World League.