Fifa disqualifies Iranian women’s soccer team for wearing headscarves

2011-06-07 00:00

OFFICIALS of the international football association, Fifa, have disqualified the Iranian women’s soccer team just before a crucial qualifying match was to start because they wore Islamic headscarves.

The Iranian team were ready to play a crucial Olympic qualifying match with Jordan in Amman on Friday, when Fifa officials decided just before the kickoff that the tight headscarves the Iranian players were wearing to cover their hair broke the association’s dress code, Fifa said yesterday.

FIFA had announced in April 2010 that it was planning to ban headscarves and other religious garb during the 2012 Olympics.

Following the ruling, Iran’s team designed special headscarves that players wrapped tightly around their heads and necks. The team said they were in line with guidelines set by the football association.

FIFA did not agree and yesterday announced its officials had been right to stop the Iranian women from playing the qualifier. Iranian officials were “informed thoroughly” before Friday’s match against Jordan that the headscarf covering a woman’s neck is banned for safety reasons, an unidentified FIFA official said.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran all women are obliged to cover their hair, neck, arms and legs according to the state’s interpretation of Shiite Islamic tenets. Female athletes who compete internationally have to obey the country’s dress code. Iranian women athletes have excelled during international events in sports such as karate and volleyball, but are notably absent from sports such as swimming and gymnastics.

“This ruling means that women soccer in Iran is over,” said Shahrzad Mozafar, the team’s former head coach, adding the Iranian government will not send the players abroad without headscarves.

The Iranian football organisation plans to protest the ruling.

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