Fifa bans the Iranian football team for wearing Islamic dress


iran women football team

Banned … the Iranian women’s football team moments before the ruling that their Islamic dress broke Fifa rules. Photograph: Ali Jarekji/Reuters

It matters little to the game of football how players are attired, but the standardisation and attention to detail in regulating even this aspect of the game is tight. Sleeves have to be of the right length and sponsors’ logos of the correct dimensions.

Is it any surprise, then, that Fifa has taken issue with the Iranian FA’s interpretation of a suitable kit for women’s teams?

The Iranian national women’s team was banned from a qualifying match for the 2012 London Olympics against Jordan because of the Islamic clothing worn by the players.

In Iran, the decision has been criticised by everyone from the head of women’s affairs at the Iranian Football Federation to President Ahmadinejad himself.

Discussion around Islamic clothing in international competitions is a recurring issue. In 2010, the Iranian women’s youth team was refused participation in the Youth Olympics in Singapore because of the headscarf.

Negotiations between the Iranian Football Federation and Fifa followed, and a compromise was reached where the team was allowed to wear headgear that did not cover the neck, allowing Iran to return to the field.

The Iranian team that came out to play in Jordan this year wore the same headgear previously given the green light by Fifa.

Ali Kafashian, the head of the Iranian Football Federation, wrote in a letter to Sepp Blatter that Iran had received only one document from Fifa relating to the kit since the 2010 Youth Olympics. That document, received on March 7 2011 (before the game against Jordan) confirmed the agreement between the two parties from the year before. The only addition to the team’s outfit was in fact their shirts, which now covered their necks.

It is understandable that some media reports quote "health and safety" as the basis of Fifa’s discontent, while others state that the controversy is because of the prohibition of "religious messages" in the outfits of the players.


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