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Husband of Iran’s ski coach bars her from leaving country

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The Iranian women’s alpine ski team flew on Wednesday to Italy for the world championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo without their coach, whose husband has barred her from leaving the country, Iranian media reported.

The reports by the semi-official ISNA news agency and the pro-reform Shargh daily did not provide any details as to why Samira Zargari’s husband had not allowed her to leave. Iran’s ski federation also did not offer any information.

Under Iranian law, husbands can stop their wives from traveling outside of the country.

Zargar is not the first married athlete whose husband prevented her from leaving Iran. In 2015, soccer player Niloufar Ardalan missed the Asian Cup tournament in futsal — an indoor version of soccer — after her husband confiscated her passport in a domestic dispute.

Women’s sports largely disappeared from Iran after the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Over time, however, women’s sports gained in popularity, especially soccer. Social customs still come into the game though, as the country’s soccer team plays its games with players’ hair covered by traditional headscarves, or hijabs.

Two Islamic countries make the headscarf mandatory for women in public — Iran and Saudi Arabia. FIFA overturned a yearlong ban against players wearing hijabs in 2012.

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Four Iranian skiers are entered for the women’s giant slalom race on Thursday at the world championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo: Atefeh Ahmadi, Sadaf Savehshemshaki, Forough Abbasi and Marjan Kalhor.

They are part of a 99-skier field for a race in which the favorites are Marta Bassino and Federica Brignone of host Italy, Petra Vlhova of Slovakia and Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States.

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