Niloufar Ardalan, the captain of the Iranian women's football team, will miss the Asian Cup tournament, which begins on Thursday, after her husband confiscated her passport in a domestic quarrel, local media has reported.
The dispute between 30-year-old midfielder Ardalan and her husband, sports journalist Mahdi Toutounchi, touches on the rights of women in the Islamic Republic. Under Iranian law, husbands can stop their wives from travelling outside of the country.
News of Ardalan missing the tournament came on Monday, when Iranian news website fararu.com reported that Ardalan wouldn't be travelling to Malaysia for the Asian Cup. Ardalan's husband reportedly wanted her to be home for their son's first day of school.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Ardalan said foreign media was exaggerating her case, but also acknowledged she would be missing the tournament. She also made a call for Iran to change its laws governing married women's travel. "I am only a national soldier who fights to raise flag of our country," she wrote. "I wish a law would be approved that allows female soldiers to fight for raising the flag."
The dilemma of Ardalan, known by the nickname 'Lady Goal', has sparked social media chatter across Iran, with many demanding she be allowed to travel and play.
Women's sports largely disappeared after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. Over time, however, they have gained popularity, especially football. Social customs still come into the game, though, as the country's football team plays its games with players' hair covered by hijabs.
Two Islamic countries make the headscarf mandatory for women in public - Iran and Saudi Arabia. Fifa overturned a year-long ban against players wearing hijabs in 2012.