Insider news & Analysis in Iran

By INU Staff

INU - On April 18th 2016, Dr. Golnar Vakil Gilani became the new president of the Polo Federation of Iran. Gilani was the third Iranian woman to hold a post as President of a national sports federation in Iran.

She is a qualified veterinarian and a member of the Iranian Medical Council, as well as being the previous Vice President for Women’s Polo at the Polo Federation of Iran.

Her previous responsibilities include membership of the Competitions Committee and membership of the Veterinary & Horse Welfare Committees at the Polo Federation of Iran.

She began her equestrian training at age 9 with the help of well-known instructors. At age 15, having mastered riding, she practiced polo alongside her respected father who is also a veteran polo player. She became a member the Iranian National Women’s Polo team in 2006.

However, the Iran’s sports federation has fired Golnar Vakil Gilani over leaked private photos. It seems that the photos show Gilani not wearing her hijab.

Gilani told Iranian news agencies that she had not received any written confirmation of her firing, but that sports authorities had appointed another woman as temporary president for the federation.

Gilani said she will continue her job as president until the last day, in defiance of the decision. She told Iranian media that for months she has been under pressure by the sports federation to resign, but has refused.

In an interview with the Iranian newspaper Sharhvand, she said, “They threatened me several times and used some unfair tools against me, but I refused to resign,” but she did not provide an explanation about the nature of the dispute.

Gilani’s opponents had come into possession of her private photos and apparently threatened to publish them, according to some reports.

Iranian law requires women to wear hijab in public. Since 1979, the Iranian government has made hijab an emblem of its religious and political identity. The government was successful in disseminating distorted images of Iranian women’s lifestyles by denying the existence of many who did not wear the hijab. This state representation has been highly effective. Even today, the hijab is a common marker of Iranian women broadcast in both Western media and Iran’s state-run television.

Private photos or videos of famous Iranian female figures showing them without Islamic covering have caused them trouble in the past. The Iranian actress Fatemeh Motamed Arya was temporarily banned due a leaked photo showing her unveiled while attending an international film festival.

In her interview Gilani said, “Certainly, Iran would face consequences by the Federation of International Polo if I am fired.”

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