What?! You mean to tell me Iran may have lied about stuff?! It’s a good thing we didn’t strike a nuclear deal with them or anything, oh wait…

Monday, Saudi Arabian news outlet Al Arabiya reported eight members of the Iranian Women’s Soccer Team were not actually women.

Released on Al Arabiya’s Arabic channel, the report claimed:

“[Eight players] have been playing with Iran’s female team without completing sex change operations,” Mojtabi Sharifi, an official close to the Iranian league, said during an interview with the Iranian website Young Journalists Club. The proportion of players in the team who were born men was not known.

In 2014, it was reported by UK paper The Telegraph that four footballers from Iran’s national women’s team were men.

Sharifi, who did not mention the name of the players, but said that some of them have played as men their entire career but only revealed their gender on the last day of their duty.

He added that Iran’s football governing body was entirely responsible for the scandal which he described as “unethical.”

The country’s football governing body did not react to Sharifi’s comments.

Doubts regarding the gender of some apparently female players in Iran have existed for a long time, with suspicions raised about a goalkeeper back in 2010.

Last year, after it was discovered four of the teams players were dudes, gender checks were supposedly implemented. Looks like someone dropped the ball:

The country’s football governing body is bringing in the random checks after it was revealed that several leading players – including four in the national women’s team – were either men who had not completed sex change operations, or were suffering from sexual development disorders.

Sex changes are permitted under a fatwa passed by a former Ayatollah and can take years to complete.

Gender change operations are legal in Iran according to a fatwa – or religious ruling – pronounced by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution. The law contrasts with the strict rules governing sexual morality under the country’s Sharia legal code, which forbids homosexuality and pre-marital sex.

…Ahmad Hashemian, head of the Iranian football federation’s medical committee, said the clubs themselves were now obliged to carry out medical examinations to establish the gender of their players before signing them on contracts.

Those unable to prove they are female would be barred from taking part in the women’s leagues until they underwent medical treatment, he said.

“If these people can solve their problems through surgery and be in a position to receive the necessary medical qualifications, they will then be able to participate in [women’s] football,” Mr Hashemian, a qualified doctor, said in remarks quoted by IRNA, the state news agency.

Sex changes are commonly carried out in phases in Iran, with the full procedure taking up to two years and including hormone therapy before the full gender transformation is completed.

Seven players have already had their contracts terminated under the federation’s gender test directive, according to IRNA.

Saudi smear job or Iranian oversight? Both are plausible.

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