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Star Referee Defies Ban and Shines Again at International Competition

September 16, 2021
2 min read
Star Referee Defies Ban and Shines Again at International Competition

Referee Gelareh Nazemi has again made history, defying Iran’s federation rules to officiate in the Futsal World Cup in Lithuania.

Nazemi, who had previously become the first Iranian woman to referee in the men's competition in the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, presided over the World Cup match between Guatemala and Egypt on September 15 in Lithuania. Egypt won the match 6-3.

Women referees are banned from officiating domestic matches in Iran, and women’s competitions cannot be refereed by male officials. But Nazemi has consistently challenged these rules, and the taboos around women’s sport, to referee on the international stage.

Gelareh Nazemi made headlines in 2019 along with Zari Fathi when it was announced that the two women would be the first women to referee for the Asian Futsal Championship. Namazi was nominated along with 16 other referees in Asia to officiate at the 2021 World Club Cup in Lithuania and was selected from a final list of eight.

For three years in a row, Futsal Planet has highlighted Gelareh Nazemi among the top 10 futsal referees in the world.

She was also asked to officiate at the Continental Futsal Championship in Thailand earlier this summer.

Her other refereeing achievements include: Barcelona vs Shenzhen, Brazil Mengus vs Shenzhen, and an Argentina Boca Juniors match in 2020; the Iranian Women's Futsal and Football Premier League; the futsal girls’ team in the 2018 Youth Olympics; women's futsal at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games; the men's student futsal championship; the 2019 Men's Futsal Club World Cup in Thailand; the first round of the European Women's Futsal Nations Cup in 2019 in Portugal; qualifying round for the 2021 Men's Futsal World Cup in Asia.

Nazemi, who is originally from Gilan, has been refereeing futsal since 2013. A year later, she was listed as an international futsal referee and has been regularly officiating for international matches for the last eight years.

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