An Iranian woman, who became the country's first female boxer to win an international fight, intends to stay in France, her spokesperson said on Wednesday, adding an arrest warrant had been issued against her in Iran.
Sadaf Khadem and her trainer Mahyar Monshipour are currently in the French city of Poitiers, the spokesperson, who asked not to be named, said.
Khadem, 24, had been due to return to Tehran, where she works as a fitness trainer, following her victory on Saturday over 25-year-old Anne Chauvin of France.
Monshipour, who has French and Iranian nationality, had been due to make a tour of Iran and give boxing classes.
In the bout Khadem was bare-headed and wearing shorts, defying rules in Iran that female athletes should be covered in line with its Islamic laws governing women's dress.
Khadem is accused of violating Iranian dress rules for women while her trainer is suspected of complicity, the spokesperson said.
There was no immediate comment from the Iranian judiciary but the Iranian boxing federation distanced itself from the female boxer.
Hossein Soori, head of Iran's boxing federation, in a statement issued by the Ministry of Sports and Youth, said Khadem was not a registered boxer in Iran and “in the view of the federation all her activities are a private act.”
The federation said it “strongly” denied she was blocked from returning from France or that she would be punished if she re-entered Iran.
Monshipour was warned of the existence of the arrest warrant in a text message, said the spokesperson, without giving further details.
The spokesperson said the French sports ministry was aware of the situation and that the two Iranians did not want to speak publicly for now.
“I want to improve as much as possible, go as far as possible and show other Iranian women that they can taste this sport,” Khadem had told AFP ahead of the bout.
Iranian women take part in a variety of sports, including in international competitions, ranging from rowing to rugby to athletics to taekwondo.
Sports that miss out
However, they must always obey Islamic dress rules, which means that some sports such as wrestling, boxing and swimming are off limits in international competition.
“Iran does not have a women's boxing federation partly because the AIBA (international federation) has not cooperated at all in allowing appropriate Islamic sportswear for women and this is not only Iran's problem, this a problem for 57 Islamic countries,” said Maziar Nazemi, a spokesperson from the Iranian sports ministry.
“Some sports like mixed martial arts (for men and women) are totally banned in Iran, but you have many Iranians including women going abroad to countries such as Armenia to take part in competitions and returning to Iran. And nobody tells them anything,” he added.