World soccer officials defend hijab ban after Iranian team forfeits match
Iran's women national football team in 2009.
June 7th, 2011
01:43 PM ET

World soccer officials defend hijab ban after Iranian team forfeits match

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - The head of Iran's football federation has written a letter of protest to FIFA after the Iranian women's soccer team forfeited a match because of a head scarf rule, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported Tuesday.

World football officials have defended their refusal to allow the players to wear head scarves while playing in an Olympic qualifying round in Amman, Jordan, last week.

"Iran's women team took part in the Olympic qualifier according to FIFA rules. FIFA commissioner's decision to bar the Iranian team is not logical," Ali Kaffashian, head of the Iranian federation, wrote in a letter to FIFA President Sepp Blatter, Mehr reported.

FIFA safety rules enacted last year allow women to wear "a cap that covers their head to the hairline, but which does not extend below the ears to cover the neck," according to a statement released by FIFA Monday.

Iran's coach chose to forfeit last Friday's match with Jordan rather than dressing players in the smaller FIFA-approved head covering.

"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," FIFA said.

Three players on Jordan's team who wanted to wear hijab scarves for religious reason also sat out the match, FIFA said.

The FIFA statement concluded that match officials "decided to apply correctly the laws of the game, which ended in the match being abandoned."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Iran • Islam • Sports

soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. almorhoobGF

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    October 30, 2012 at 5:43 am |
  2. Lisa Kinley

    The Olympics are a time of celebration. The Olympic Committee wants everyone to have a great time and focus on all the athletes from around the world doing their best. This is not a time of religious discussion. The Olympic Committe does not want Olympic athletes wearing in-your-face large religious symbols that distract from games and make people have to think about religion and religious conflicts. Would you really like a team of athletes wearing large electronic flashing crosses on their chests? Really? Most Muslims state that special clothing isn't even a part of the Islamic religion. Some Islamic countries have banned head scarfs. Why do some Muslims insist on wearing large iin-your-face Islamic religious symbols, especially if the Olympic Committe has already banned them? I think some Muslims need to back off and be peaceful, participate like everyone else, and knock it off with the in-your-face large Islamic religious symbols.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  3. derp

    Hello Iran, this is the 21 st century. You are more than welcome to join us.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  4. mrand

    As a non-Muslim I cannot claim to understand all of the nuances of their religion, however I thin that the Iranian team made the correct decision. France and FIFA should NOT be able to dictate whether a woman can wear a head scarf during a match. If they do that, then they should also ban crosses, stars of david, and other religious symbols to be fair to players of all faiths. Or just have some compassion and understanding of a culture that encompasses a large portion of their organization and so should have an equal say (or at least some consideration) in the rules.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Many sports organizations ban *all* jewelry. It's about safety and uniform/equipment standards, not religion, but believers need to feel persecuted... As before, if they don't like FIFA's rules, and are not able to get them changed through the established mechanism, they are free to form their own organization. The International Sports Federation For Fairy Tale Believers has a nice ring to it.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      The head and ears must be clear for safety/cheating reasons. You can have a cooler pack on your head, or you can have a radio ear piece telling you what to do. 🙂

      June 8, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  5. Sassan

    As an Iranian, I say good. You must make a statement that human rights and particularly women's rights are universal and we must never bow down to fanatical maniacs who want to destroy humanity.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:10 am |
    • sharky

      Oh give ma a break with that inane rhetoric. Religion does NOT take precedent over everything in life especially in the Western World. Don't like it then never ever do anything in the Western world where Islam and Sharia law are NOT part of life.

      June 9, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • Haime52

      As an American, I too say good for the Iranians for not bowing to FIFA. Hopefully some kind of accomodation can be achieved on both sides, it would be a crime that these women not be allowed to compete. And it goes against all that we Americans claim to stand for, an even chance.

      @ Sharky – Don't know what planet you're from. True religion is part of everything one does, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Buddist, Hindu or whatever. If your "greatest strength is the weakness of your conviction", then you have no conviction and it is not worth having.

      As a Christian, I do not claim to fully understand Islam, it has a bit to do with world view, but I do understand religious conviction! NO country, no country's players should be penalized for deeply held religious convictions. I don't know if Isreal's team is required to play on their Sabbath, but they should not, if they are religious Jews, and if accomodation is made for them, then why cannot accomodation be made for these wonderful Iranian women? I believe it is a blatantly prejudiced decision. Officials(female) could check for hidden devises, before allowing them on the field, thus quieting any anxiety about that.

      FIFA!!!!! Let them play!!!

      June 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  6. T-Party

    a big portion of Iranians are great people. I cant wait till the day we are gone from Iraq and Afgahnistan and drop some bombs on that Hit-ler of Iran

    June 7, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  7. Marie Kidman


    June 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      Spamming something isn't going to make it viral.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  8. Mark from Middle River

    Has anyone mentioned this yet but isn't FIFA already in a big controversy about giving or possibly selling the 2020 World cup to Qatar? On the BBC I know that, in England and Australia they have had reporters and heads of sporting groups that FIFA sorta caved into political correctness.

    I have no clue on how this is a issue but I am not big into soccer or hijab issues. How is this a safety issue? We have 350 pound linebackers tackling 180 pound kickers while they are wearing a modified helmet.

    Anyone that has played soccer, could a traditional or modified hijab interfere with the game. Would it give a advantage or a disadvantage?

    Heck, I want this team in just to see a Iran vs Israel match. On that the world would stop. 🙂

    June 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • JT

      I don't know much about the hijab but if it wraps around the neck of the player then it's against the rules. Players aren't allowed to wear necklaces as well because of the perceived choking hazard. Personally, I think you could just as easily choke on your shirt if someone grabbed you.

      I don't think there's anything you could do to your uniform that would give you an advantage except maybe spiked cleats that could hurt another player, and that's not really an advantage. I know that hard casts aren't allowed because of the risk of injuring another player, maybe they feel that headgear could do the same, but not if it's just cloth...

      June 9, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  9. Frogist

    Sorry Iran, but rules is rules. If safety says you can't have something like that around your face and neck, you're just gonna have to deal with it. You forfeited and that's up to you. It shows you hold your religious and cultural differences higher than participating in football matches which is fine. But like I said – rules is rules.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  10. Case Settled

    I love you! 🙂 😀


    June 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  11. FairGarden

    Iran has no freedom of religion.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  12. Reality

    Reminds one of Sir Salman Rushdie's comments in his book,"Satanic Verses", p. 376, paperback issue – ( for those 1 billion + Muslims to read as they are forbidden to purchase or read said book:)

    One of the passages that prompted the crazy Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa against Sir Rushdie:

    Mahound = Mohammed
    Gibreel = Gabriel

    "The faithful lived by lawlessness, but in those years Mahound – or should one say the Archangel Gibreel? – should one say Al-Lah? – became obsessed by law.

    Amid the palm-trees of the oasis Gibreel appeared to the Prophet and found himself spouting rules, rules, rules, until the faithful could scarcely bear the prospect of any more revelation, Salman said, rules about every da-mn thing, if a man farts let him turn his face to the wind, a rule about which hand to use for the purpose of cleaning one's behind.

    It was as if no aspect of human existence was to be left unregulated, free. The revelation – the recitation- told the faithful how much to eat, how deeply they should sleep, and which se-xual positions had received divine sanction, so that they leamed that so-domy and the missionary position were approved of by the archangel, whereas the forbidden postures included all those in which the female was on top.

    Gibreel further listed the permitted and forbidden subjects of conversation, and earmarked the parts of the body which could not be scratched no matter how unbearably they might itch.

    He vetoed the consumption of prawns, those bizarre other-worldly creatures which no member of the faithful had ever seen, and required animals to be killed slowly, by bleeding, so that by experiencing their deaths to the full they might arrive at an understanding of the meaning of their lives, for it is only at the moment of death that living creatures understand that life has been real, and not a sort of dream.

    And Gibreel the archangel specified the manner in which a man should be buried, and how his property should be divided, so that Salman the Persian got to wondering what manner of God this was that sounded so much like a businessman.

    This was when he had the idea that destroyed his faith, because he recalled that of course Mahound himself had been a businessman, and a damned successful one at that, a person to whom organization and rules came naturally, so how excessively convenient it was that he should have come up with such a very businesslike archangel, who handed down the management decisions of this highly corporate, if noncorporeal, God."

    June 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Gilbert

      I love salmon rushdie! He had very insiteful remarks but I can't remember them all. Thank you for posting that.

      June 7, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • Convert to Islam or the Puppy Dies!

      love chili-rubbed salmon with watercress salad, Gilbert.

      I wonder if Salman Rushdie gets angry who he is mistaken for an anadromous fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids?

      June 7, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.