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Football: Japan, Iran sign partnership deal

Asian champions Japan and rival Iran have struck a deal to cooperate in promoting football at home, with a focus on the women's game, the Japan Football Association (JFA) announced on Wednesday (Aug 13).

TOKYO: Asian champions Japan and rival Iran have struck a deal to cooperate in promoting football at home, with a focus on the women's game, the Japan Football Association (JFA) announced Wednesday (Aug 13).

The so-called partnership agreement would see the countries share and exchange personnel, including coaches and referees, as well cooperate in areas such as sports medicine and professional league management. The association said it signed the deal with its Iranian counterpart in Tehran on Tuesday with plans to work together on "invigorating women's football", as Iran reportedly plans to launch a female league next month.

Japan won the 2011 women's World Cup as the first Asian nation to lift the global football trophy for either sex, having come a long way since it launched a women's league in 1989. They also lifted their first women's Asian Cup this year.

Women's football has been popular in Iran for decades, although the Islamic government has banned women from entering most sporting events, including football matches between male sides, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. 

Since 2005, the JFA has signed similar partnership agreements with counterparts in eight other countries - France, Spain, Germany, Singapore, Tajikistan, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Vietnam.