SportsAward-winning guardian, complicated preparation and controlled freedoms, we tell...

Award-winning guardian, complicated preparation and controlled freedoms, we tell you about the first history of Iran

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What other sport than women’s handball, and its extended preliminary phase of the World Championship, can give us so much emotion? Almost all of us will be honest. But, because there is always a “but”, we still had a great time in sport, as Gégé Holtz said, after the Iran-Norway match on Sunday evening. Well, not because of an unlikely victory for the Persians against the double Olympic champions, no. There was no match: 22-3 at halftime, 41-9 at the end of the match. It’s the picket line, Jack.

If the hairs stood on end on our little arms, it was especially when we saw Iranian goalkeeper Fatemeh Khalili Behfar receiving the player of the match trophy at the end of the match. Already the author of 18 saves in the first match against Romania, lost 39-11, the 25-year-old made some big saves against the Norwegians after being shot all the time.

General emotion

In all, 86 shots in two games (29% saves). It therefore deserved a small reward for services rendered to the nation. Fatemeh Khalili Behfar burst into tears upon receiving the honor. It even cried among the Norwegians, who asked to take a group photo to immortalize the moment.

I’m so happy for her, says Ali İhsan Tekin, her trainer in Turkey. She is a respectful, calm and duty-bound woman. She works a lot. Even if she gets 180 shots in a game, that won’t be a problem, because she’s a person who loves her job and loves to work. “

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A great distinction for a country which is playing its first World Cup. The first time, too, that an Iranian women’s national team has participated in a world championship, whether in seniors, hopes or juniors. So, we are not going to lie to you, Iran has not in a few years become a nation that counts in world handball, but the country has taken advantage of the opening of the competition to 32 teams to find a small place. , thanks to a fourth place obtained at the Asian Games.

“A historic event”

If some, like Alexandra Lacrabère, on beIN Sports, are frankly against this World Cup at 32 – “It’s not a very good advertisement for handball” -, others, like the Norwegian coach, are in favor, especially for highlight Iran: “I’m looking forward to this match,” Thorir Hergeirsson explained to the Norwegian site Aftenposten. For Muslim women, it is wonderful. This is a historic event. “

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History, in fact, for a selection of which the majority of the players evolve in the country. Only three, including the now legendary Fatemeh Khalili Behfar, play abroad, in Turkey, all in the same club: Antalya Anadolu Spor Kulübü. “We were offered a first Iranian player and I liked the way she played. So I asked if other teammates were interested and we recruited them all at the same time, ”recounts Ali İhsan Tekin.

No media coverage in the country

We can already imagine the rest. Fatemeh Khalili Behfar recruited by Brest, she won the Champions League, Iran continues to grow and wins the Olympics in 2024 in Paris in front of French dumbfounded. Okay, maybe we’re going a bit fast. “In Iran, handball is second to football, wrestling, volleyball and basketball. Especially as a women’s sport, it’s very limited. There, for the World Cup, they had no preparation, no training ground, no friendly matches, ”explains Reza Mohaddes, journalist on the independent channel Iran International, based in London, which covers the World Cup in Spain. .

Moreover, level of media coverage, difficult to mobilize the crowds, because everything is controlled by government channels. “State television does not show matches and does not even cover women’s sporting events,” continues Mohaddes. In Iran, we are only entitled to rare photos of Iranian players [les joueuses adverses sont censurées car non couvertes]. The only way to see images of this world championship is on social networks, with a proxy, because otherwise, it’s blocked. “

Supervised by a security guard

The Islamic Republic has also banned players from responding directly to our reporter. [qui ne peut pas rentrer dans son pays], because he works in a chain, considered by the regime, of opposition. The handball players are also supervised and supervised by a security guard from the Ministry of Sports, in conjunction with General Intelligence.

“It’s done to control them, to forbid them to speak to certain foreign media, to forbid them to go out, to party,” continues Mohaddes. As soon as a sportsman or sportswoman leaves Iran for a competition, he is obliged to leave a very high deposit to force him to return to the country and to avoid cases like the judoka Saeid Mollaei [médaillé d’argent à Tokyo sous les couleurs mongoles]. At the World Cup, handball players are in a kind of bubble. The Spanish health authorities must appreciate. The defenders of the cause of women a little less.

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