World Football - Iran and FIFA clash over hijab kit

Tue, 07 Jun 12:06:00 2011

Iran's dream of competing in the London 2012 Olympic women's football tournament was crushed by an unexpected ruling that their Islamic dress broke FIFA rules, but football's governing body insisted the country were warned about dress code rules which led to the team being banned.

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Iran had said it would complain to FIFA after the women's team were stopped from playing a second-round qualifier for next year's London Olympics because of their full-body strip, which includes a head scarf and conforms to the Islamic dress code.

Opponents Jordan were awarded a 3-0 win and Iranian officials said the decision could cost them a place in the 2012 Games.

FIFA said both teams had been reminded before Friday's match about its rules and that, as a result, Jordan had decided not to select several players.

"FIFA's decision in March 2010 which permitted that players be allowed to wear a cap that covers their head to the hairline, but does not extend below the ears to cover the neck, was still applicable," FIFA said.

"Despite initial assurances that the Iranian delegation understood this, the players came out wearing the hijab, and the head and neck totally covered, which was an infringement of the Laws of the Game.

"The match commissioner and match referee therefore decided to apply correctly the Laws of the Game, which ended in the match being abandoned."

In Tehran, the head of women's affairs at Iran's football federation said Iran had made changes to its women's kit after a previous FIFA ban last year and believed it had been given the approval of the world federation and its president, Sepp Blatter.

"We made the required corrections and played a match afterwards," Farideh Shojaei told Reuters in an interview.

"We played the next round and were not prevented from doing so, and they didn't find anything wrong. That meant that there are no obstacles in our path, and that we could participate in the Olympics."

FIFA's rules for the 2012 Olympics state: "Players and officials shall not display political, religious, commercial or personal messages or slogans in any language or form on their playing or team kits."

Shojaei added: "In reality, this kit is neither religious, nor political, nor will it lead to harm to a player."

She said the ruling meant the team were now unlikely to qualify for the Olympics.

"The countries that invested, and spent money and time and took part in the second round will clearly not be willing to repeat these games, especially if this week it becomes clear which team will enter the final round. So it is extremely unlikely."

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Reuters

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