Ban of Iranian Girl’s Soccer Team Creates a Peculiar Problem

This entry was posted by Noel on Monday, 5 April, 2010 at

According to the Associate Press, Iran’s girls’ soccer team was thrown out of the Youth Olympics because FIFA rules prevent players from wearing an Islamic headscarf.

Soccer in Hijab

Iranian soccer player wears a hijab scarf

The hijab scarf — worn by girls and women to observe Islamic dress code — was not allowed under FIFA rules relating to on-field equipment, the Asian Football Confederation said. Despite the urging of Iran’s national Olympic committee for the ban to be reviewed by the International Olympic Committee, the Iranian under 18 girls soccer squad will not be participating in the coming youth Olympics this August.

In response to criticism regarding the decision, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, referenced soccer’s international rulebook which contains a section on player equipment, stating that “basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal statements.”

Canadian Player Dons a Hijab Scarf

This is a peculiar problem for FIFA and soccer worldwide. The intent of the law was clearly to avoid religious persecution and problem by removing one potential source. Insisting that all teams wear uniforms that do not express religious or political opinions or agendas of any kind would normally help in that regard, but in this case the tolerance policy proves to be remarkably intolerant.

The best team from the Asian Football conference will not be playing in the tournament and it will be so because of a law that forces one side or the other to bend. FIFA has shown that they will not, and the Iranian Football Federation (F.F.I.R.I) certainly will not either. All in all, the whole thing is unfortunate as a team of hopeful young athletes who earned a spot in the Olympics will sit at home.

Iran was to have taken part in a six-nation tournament for girls at the inaugural competition in Singapore on Aug. 12-25. About 3,600 athletes, ages 14 to 18, will compete in 26 sports.

Thailand will now represent Asia in Iran’s stead against Turkey, Equatorial Guinea, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile and Papua New Guinea.

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3 Responses to “Ban of Iranian Girl’s Soccer Team Creates a Peculiar Problem”

  1. Greg

    With respect, I think the intent of the law was more likely to make sure that basic compulsory equipment does not have any political, religious or personal statements. What if another group wants to wear armbands, or hats, or even khirpans? This is soccer, not the United Nations. If the Islamic girls want to lobby FIFA to change the rules, go ahead, but don’t enter for a competition where you already know your “equipment” is breaking the rules.

  2. Hi Greg, thanks for the response, it was much appreciated! You make a fair point and please know that I don’t disagree with the rule that FIFA made. Having uniforms that are… well, “uniform” removes the possibility of any one team making a statement that the organization and the other teams might not agree with. My opinion on the matter is only that it is unfortunate that these kids won’t get a chance to play. The fact that this is as much if not more the fault of their own culture as it is FIFA, is without debate. In order for the girls to play in the tournament one group or the other had to budge and neither did, because of that the only real loser in the situation was this team of girls.

  3. Jill

    These poor girls have no choice. Men can wear bandanas. They are not trying to make a religious or political statement, just obeying the laws of their country. We all should encourage them to fight for their freedom and allowing them to play empowers them.

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