Football Under Cover

Germany 2008, Feature film, 86' | Director Ayat Najafi, David Assmann | DoP Anne Misselwitz, Niclas Reed Middleton | Editor Sylke Rohrlac | Sound Hanna Weißgerber, Antje Volkmann | Music Niko Schnabel | Production Flying Moon Filmproduktion | Distribution Zorro Film GmbH

On 28 April 2006, the Iranian national women's football team and Al Dersim, a Berlin-based women's football team, met for an unprecedented friendly game in Tehran. For the Iranian football squad, it was the first public game in a Tehran stadium. Previously, they had only been allowed to play behind locked doors in indoor arenas. Women and football in Iran? Well, it was a hard slog for a bit of freedom. Not that Iranian side are rebels. All they want to do is play football and play it in front of spectators. Which in Iran is a political issue in itself since women teams are usually not allowed to train or play in public.

It was Al Dersim club members Marlene, Valerie and Corinna Assmann, their brother David and Iranian film-maker Ayat Najafi who made this unique football encounter possible. And it was they who caught on film the painstaking preparations, the frequently frustrating trips to the authorities in Tehran, the wishes and the anxieties of the women in both countries, the stay in Tehran, the training sessions behind locked doors, the headscarves and long trousers and, not least, the game itself. The camera accompanies events from the first idea to the last minute of the match.

Football Under Cover is impressive proof that an unusual undertaking can be carried to a successful conclusion if one is persistent enough and never short of inspiration. The film also shows the cultural differences, the life situations and the various attitudes from the perspective of young (women) football players all united by a deep passion for the game. As such, the film also gives a fascinating glimpse into the private lives of young women in today's Iran.


Born 1976 in Tehran, Ayat Najafi studied set design at the University of Tehran. In 1995, when still a student, he founded his first theatre group. In 2003, he started up the Arta Atelier, using its multimedia work platform to make several films about Tehran. Together with Marlene Assmann, he took part at the Berlinale Talent Campus in 2005 and it was there that the idea of Football Under Cover came into being.

David Assmann was born in 1978. He attended school in Berlin, Heidelberg, Jerusalem, Santa Monica and Konstanz. At the University of Mainz, he studied media dramaturgy and has been involved on a number of film, theatre, radio and exhibition projects.

Ayat Najafi, David Assmann
Feature Film
School Film