A look at Chogan in “Iran and the world”

The origin of Chogan back to ancient times, and according to historical documents, this sport dates back to 525 BC. Chogan is one of the ancient Iranian sports that has become a world sport today. This sport is known as the game of kings due to its popularity among kings and elders. The game initially had a military and combat title, and Iranian riders showed off their war horses’ talents.

Today, more than 77 countries hold Chogan competitions and special programs. Chogan is also one of the sports that was played as a sport in the World Olympic Games from 1900 to 1939, and is now recognized by the International Olympic Committee as one of the world’s sports.


History of Chogan

Chogan was formed in Iran around 600 BC, and was played during the Achaemenid period. Chogan became popular in India when Darius I conquered the country. In the Sassanid period, it has also been a part of the game culture of India.

Rudaki is the first poet who talked about Chogan after Islam, and Ferdowsi repeatedly mentions it. Ferdowsi puts the story of Siavash and Afrasiab’s playing Chogan game in his poems. Saadi, Hafez, Naser Khosrow and Maulana also mentioned Chogan in their notes.

After the invasion of Iran by Mongols, and when they became acquainted with Iranian culture and art, the Mongols also learned to play Chogan, and spread it throughout their vast empire. That is why East Asian countries tend to play Chogan. This period is considered as the most serious period when this game started to be fade.

Chogan games
Chogan games

When Chogan became popular in the world

Chogan flourished during the Safavid period. Historical documents show that Shah Abbas was a Chogan player, and even played it in Qazvin, the capital of Iran, before transferring to Isfahan. Isfahan’s Naghsh Jahan Square was also built for Chogan. The Europeans became acquainted with the game in Safavid period, and during their colonial rule in India. British officers learned the game professionally at Calcutta Club, and took it with them to England. Later, sports suchc as golf and hockey were developed, and the categories used in these games were the same as Chogan. In 1860, the game became popular in England. The game then travels to South America and becomes more popular, as Chogan is now played more in South America than anywhere else in the world and has many fans.

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current status of the game

This sport has gradually been forgotten in Iran after the Safavids. Of course, in the Pahlavi era, Chogan was again considered in relation to Europeans, but it did not become as popular as it used to be. Today, more attention is being paid to this sport. Measures have also been taken to establish covered areas for women.

The game is not only an exciting game, it is quite a strategic game that requires the preparation of the rider and the horse together. The rider and the horse fought in the game. The horse escapes when confronted with an obstacle, but the Chogan horse moves toward the obstacle and puts itself in a position where the rider will hit. The horse that adapts to these conditions openly on the field, is easily present on the battlefield.

The basics of game

The game is known by various titles, such as “King Sports” or “King of Sports”, but you don’t have to be a king to be able to play it. The required facilities for Chogan are not far off the mark which is why the sport has become so popular in recent years. This game requires a combination of individual physical skills and riding skills. The game’s tactics are very similar to football and hockey. Speed, accuracy, physical strength and sharpness are essentials to success in Chogan competitions.

Chogan land characteristics

The length and breadth of the Chogan field are 274 and 145 meters, respectively (although in the United States and Argentina these dimensions are slightly larger than the current standard). The length of the gate is 7 meters.

Chogan in Naghsh-e Jahan square
Chogan in Naghsh-e Jahan square

Race duration

Chogan game is divided into 6 periods (Choke), each lasting 7 minutes. Of course, this standard is related to the United Kingdom, but in Argentina and the United States, this time is divided into eight parts, with a break of 3 minutes between each break and 5 minutes between the two halves.

Number of players

Four people play in each team. The first person is an attacker and his job is to attack as well as help the defender. The second person is also an attacker, but his duty in defense is more important. The third player, usually is the best player on the team with the task of turning defensive moves into counter-attacks. The fourth is also a defender and has a duty to keep the ball away from the goal. Because Chogan is a fast-paced game, players from one team may be located in different parts of the field where the other player should occupy. In this case, they have to perform the tasks of that player until they return to their place.

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Goal and rules of the game

The goal of this game is to send the ball to the opponent’s goal. When the ball goes out from behind the goal, the ball is thrown by the attacking team, unless the team itself causes it to come out. In this case, the team will be awarded a free throw (from 84 meters from the exit). After each goal, the two teams exchange their ground and the referee places the ball in the center of the field. If the two teams are draw, they will be given extra time and the first team to score will be declared as the winner. When a player moves in the direction in where the ball is thrown, the lead is with him if (and only then) that the ball is on his right. In this case, no opener is allowed to block his way, unless he is at a reasonable distance where there is no danger.

Fouls in Chogan

1- Cut off the equestrian path in where the player is hitting the ball along its path and by doing so, endangering his life.

2- Tap from the opposite direction (from the left).

3- Riding or hitting in a way that is dangerous for other riders.

Chogan game
Chogan game

Types of Chogan fines

1- Counting a goal for the opposing team in case of a dangerous collision or intentional foul near the goal.

2- Hitting a free kick from 27 meters in the opposite direction of the goal, and placing the defenders behind the goal line. Defenders are only allowed to intervene when hit.

3- Hitting a free kick from a distance of 36 meters with the same conditions.

4- Hitting a free kick from a distance of 54 meters so that no defender is up to a distance of 27 meters from hitting the ball.

5- Hitting a free kick from the middle of the field (without the existence of a law such as offside, etc., such as football).

6- Hitting a free kick from the place a foul happened. In this case, no defender should be within 27 meters of the point of impact.

7- There is no corner like football, but a similar move is made as follows: a free kick from a distance of 54 meters, provided that the defenders are 27 meters away from hitting the shot.

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Arbitration in Chogan

The game is judged by two common arbitrators and one referee. The commanders are riding horses to keep the game in hand. In case of agreement between the captains of the two teams, the referee can be assigned to two common arbitrators, but in case of disagreement between the two, the final decision is the responsibility of the third referee.

The start of Chogan match

At the beginning of the match, both teams line up in the middle of the field and behind the midfield and get their own lineup. The referee then throws the ball between them from a distance of 4.6 meters and the game begins with the possession of the ball by one of the two teams.

End of the game

In normal conditions, the match is stopped only at the end of a Choke, to rest and replace the horses, but if one of the following events occurs in the Choke, the referee can order the game to be stopped:

  • One of the horses fell during the race.
  • Injury of a horse due to an accident or unexpected event for one of the horses (if the rider falls off the horse so that nothing serious happens to the rider, the game will continue).

How to register points

A point is scored for a team when the ball clearly crosses the goal line and the referee confirms its accuracy. If the ball hits the top of the goal, the score is conditional on the referee’s approval.

Chogan horses

In Chogan, short horses are usually used, so ponies have a special place. In a game, one horse is usually used in a maximum of two chokes, but one choke must be given to the horse between them.

Necessary equipment for horses during competitions

  • Bandage to protect the four legs of a horse in order not to hit the ball or stick to the legs.
  • Choose the right steering wheel (mouth, leg) to control the horse better during the race.

Necessary equipment for riding

  • helmet
  • Gloves
  • The Chogan whip, which is about 106 centimeters in size, is due to its ease of use during the race.
  • Equestrian boots without straps
  • Knee strap


Chogan stick and ball

Chogan sticks have a length of 129 cm, the end of which is cylindrical. It is usually made of bamboo or light and durable wood such as persimmon wood. The diameter of the ball is about 8.25 cm and weighs about 141-127 grams. The ball is made of willow or bamboo. Of course, plastic and foam types are also used in training games.