Small victory: Iran overrules husband in exit visa dispute

Tehran granted an Iranian soccer captain a rare temporary exit visa Monday, after her husband banned her from attending the championships earlier this year.

Niloufar Ardalan, 30, heads the Iranian national futsal team, a variant of soccer. Her husband, sports journalist Mehdi Toutounchi, wanted her home for her son’s first day of school – banning her under strict Sharia Law from leaving Iran to head the team during an important match.

The midfielder and Iranian national team captain, nicknamed “Lady Goal,” caused a social media and political storm in September when she took her struggle to play in the Asian Football Federation Women’s Futsal Championship in Malaysia to the media.

Ardalan has spoken to several press outlets about her case, championing a change for the rights of female athletes.

And that campaign appears to have worked: the Iranian government issued Ardalan a temporary exit visa on Sunday to attend the Futsal World Cup event in Guatemala to be held from November 24-29.

“Niloufar Ardalan, who after problems with her husband missed the Asian championship matches, left the country without gaining his consent,” the judiciary announced on its website.

The victory is a small gain for women’s rights in Iran, which relegates women as second-class to their husbands or male guardians.