Niloofar „Niloo“ Bassir

Graphic designer, football player since 1997, professional football player in the first futsal league in Iran and in the Iranian National Team from 2006 to 2012.

“I do everything I want!”

Sometimes, Niloo wonders how she has always managed to keep playing football. In Iran, female football players have very rare future prospects for the participation in public sports competitions. Female football players basically only have ‘safe spaces’ as they are are structurally banned from  playing football in public. The female football players have to content themselves with playing futsal [indoor football] in the absence of (male) spectators and media coverage. As a result, the women remain unseen and can hardly generate sponsors for their activity.

Niloo decided to take part in the project “Football Under Cover” in order to advocate for the visibility of women. To her, being present in public is the only way to address anti-women mockery and to overcome sexist prejudice drawing the picture of women as the inferior sex. The decision taken by the Iranian moral guardians that accompanied the players during “Football Under Cover” reveales how political Niloo’s desires are. She was excluded from the match and had to watch it from the sideline.

In reply to this, Niloo continues to play in public parks until she is sent home and has traveled to DISCOVER FOOTBALL’s events in order to debate and develop strategies for the development of women’s football in Iran.

"Football means everything to me. It's not easy to describe football with words because football is love and passion."

"Except for the rare occasion that we play in the park no male has ever seen any of our games. Let women play football in public, men should see us play. Only this way, people can realize that women have a great potential in football."

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City: Iran, Teheran; Berlin, Germany
Founded in: 2005
Members: 35
Greatest success: Realizing and documenting the first official women’s football match in Iran since 1979

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Football Under Cover

“In Iran everything is possible and everything is impossible!”

“Football Under Cover” is a movie that portrays the friendly match between BSV Al-Dersimspor, an amateur’s football club from Berlin, and the Iranian National Team in Teheran, 2006. The match has been the first official women’s football match in the Iranian public since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Not only documenting but also initializing and organizing this encounter, “Football Under Cover” also is a project that goes far beyond the tactics of a simple football match. It is an example of how women create transnational solidarity, a common voice for social justice and visibility through football.
In the forehand, the Iranian football players basically didn’t have any experience in participating in any public sports competition. In 2005, a selection of female futsal players was selected to play at a football tournament for the first time, obliged to wear the headscarf regardless of their individual desires.

In order to play the friendly match in Teheran in front of more than a thousand female spectators, the players from both sides had have to make great efforts for more than one year. The final 90 minutes are the result of a deep desire for self-determination and justice, and reveal that through football social change is possible. It also inspired the players and filmmakers from Berlin to start the initiative DISCOVER FOOTBALL.