Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Iran mixed football match furore

Iranian woman watches football from behind a fence
Women are a rare sight at Iranian football matches

The leading Iranian football club has apologised for allowing its women's team and its men's youth team to play each other.

Esteghlal football club, which was top of the Iranian league, said it had penalised three officials.

This was the first mixed football match since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Associated Press reported.

Mixed sports are strictly forbidden in Iran. Women are not even allowed into football grounds to watch men's games.

'Moral values'

The match is reported to have happened earlier this month at a stadium in south Tehran.

Iranian media say the men's team won 7-0.

But the head of the club's academy, Alireza Mansourian, said the two teams had come into contact only briefly, after their training sessions overlapped.

"On examination, I concluded that the incident did not happen in the way it is alleged," he said.

He insisted the club "is committed to moral values".

The club announced on its website that three officials, including the women's and youth team coaches, had been suspended and fined.

Mr Mansourian, a prominent former footballer, is also reported to have been fined.

The incident is said to be under investigation by the state-run sports governing body, which enforces gender segregation within sport.

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