Iranian duo make history in women's volleyball by moving to Bulgaria
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[January 18, 2017]
By Angel Krasimirov
SHUMEN, Bulgaria (Reuters) - Iran's
first two women volleyball players to compete outside the Islamic
Republic joined Bulgarian club Shumen this month, a move which has
taken years of negotiation with Iranian authorities and which could
help break down some gender barriers at home.
Women are still not allowed to attend men's volleyball matches in
Iran despite attempts since President Hassan Rouhani's election in
2015 to relax some of the strict Muslim rules that limit women's
activities to the family and home.
Maedeh Borhani, 28, and team captain Zeinab Giveh, 34, arrived in
the northeastern town of Shumen amid a rising tide of nationalism,
sparked by huge migrant inflows to Europe over the past two years,
with Bulgaria being a popular transit routes.
Shumen has a centuries-old Muslim community and Muslims make up
about 12 percent of Bulgaria's population of 7.2 million, but in
September the government banned wearing face veils in public.
Borhani and Giveh will be the first in the Bulgarian league wearing
hijabs but Borhani said what players wear should not be what
"The hijab is worn with pride by the Iranian women," she told
Reuters. "Hijab is a belief, it's a religion and that's not
important when we're playing."
Borhani also said that the move to Shumen could also perhaps open a
new frontier for Iranian women athletes to move abroad.
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Britain's Andy Murray hits a shot during his Men's singles second
round match against Russia's Andrey Rublev. REUTERS/Issei Kato
"I think (the transfer) is opening a new way for all female athletes
in Iran, especially volleyball players," she said.
Giveh agreed: "I think there are other Iranian players who can play
(Editing by Lidia Kelly and Louise Ireland)
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