FIFA to Iran: “no hijabs on the field”

From The Telegraph U.K.

Iran demands Fifa lifts Olympic games football hijab ban

Iran has demanded that Fifa overturn a ban on its girls football team from the Youth Olympic games after the team was kicked out for wearing Islamic scarves that contravene international rules.

by Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Published: 1:15PM BST 06 Apr 2010
Iran's girls football teams banned from Olympics for wearing  hijab

Players of Iran’s women national football team Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Iran’s national Olympic committee had called on Fifa, football’s world governing body, and the International Olympic Committee to review the ban on the hijab.

The hijab is worn women beyond the age of puberty to observe Islamic rules on modesty and interaction of the sexes.

“We have asked the heads of these international sports organisations to review and annul Fifa’s decision,” Bahram Afsharzadeh, the Iranian Olympic committee secretary general said. “Hijab is related to the Islamic culture and Muslim women can’t take part in social activities without it.”

The inaugural Youth Olympic games will be held from August 14 to 26 in Singapore and Thailand was nominated on Monday to replace the barred Iranians.

Jerome Valcke, the Fifa secretary general, rejected the Iranian Olympic panel’s request in a letter to the national football federation.

“Taking into consideration the clear position stated by the (Olympic committee) of Iran, the Fifa Executive Committee had no choice but to take the decision that (Iran) will not be able to participate,” said Mr Valcke.

Fifa maintains football’s international rule book which contains a section on players’ on-field equipment.

Law 4 states that “basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal statements.

“The team of a player whose basic compulsory equipment has political, religious or personal slogans or statements will be sanctioned by the competition organiser or by Fifa.”

The hijab issue was first examined in 2007 after an 11-year-old girl in Canada was prevented from wearing one for safety reasons.

Iran was scheduled to compete in a six-nation tournament for girls at the inaugural Youth Olympics against Turkey, Equatorial Guinea, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile and Papua New Guinea.

Around 3,600 athletes aged 14-18 will compete in 26 sports.

Ali Kafashian, president of Iran’s Football Federation, said the Iranian women team will participate in the competitions only if they are allowed to observe the Islamic dress code.

A spokesman for the International Olympic Comittee said: “In accordance with the Olympic Charter, the International Federations (IFs) are responsible for establishing the technical criteria of their sports and ensuring their application. The decision by FIFA (the IF) is in line with the rules of the game, which have been communicated by the IF to the Iranian NOC.”

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