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. Aziz

    Just another attempt of Islam to push itself on the world and force Islamization on people.. Bravo world soccer for standing their ground.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Modesty#1

      Bravo for a non-Muslim pretending to be a Muslim.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Convert to Islam or the Puppy Dies!

      We atheists do thank you Muslims for proving so clearly to the world that religion is totally insane. Unfortunately, otherreligions fail to see the insanities of their own religion.

      June 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  2. steelerguin

    I couldn't care if they played in long dresses and high heels. I think it puts them in a disadvantage especially on hot days. Let 'em play, get beat, and then they can whine about something else.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Bruce

      And how much more will FIFA have to pay in liability insurance premiums at this point if they relax rules that are ostensibly about the safety of the athletes?

      June 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  3. brendan

    Jonathan Brandeis' plan to play soccer has again been foiled.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Well played sir.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  4. Joe

    Next, iranian swimmers will try to qualify for the Olympics by jumping into the pool with all their clothes on.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • John


      June 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  5. Trent

    Perhaps they should select a less oppressive religion.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  6. Sean Russell

    They have the right to practice their religion, and FIFA has the right to determine proper attire for their events. If your religious beliefs preclude you from participating in some activities- that's just the way it is. That's like a Jewish person demanding that bbq places not serve pork because they can't eat it. If your beliefs are that important to you- you just have to make a sacrifice. You can't have it both ways. And as I recall, sacrifice is a big element of many religions.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Fupped Duck

      Right on my swine loving friend....As in Rome......

      June 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  7. Greenspam

    In the mean time, FIFA has yet denied the use of instant replay in international soccer matches to making judging more fair. That figures.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  8. Jason

    Leaving aside broader issues. I am sure what the harm is of letting women play wearing Hijab. I am not a football player, but I am not sure why something which does not confer an advantage is banned.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Sam

      It will fun to see them play in burka against a team from west dressed in bikni 🙂

      June 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  9. Sam

    They are insulting Islam. How can they show their faces? I demand that they wear burka with sun-glasses and wear gloves. So insulting – what would Allah say...

    June 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      The protocals for a woman in public are too numerous to mention here. Many Qur'anic admonitions stress the woman's responsibility to submit in public in both gaze and dress.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  10. inspirationandlight

    I am sure with the correct payment to Blatter and his cronies the scarves would have been allowed.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      Islam is all about keeping Christians as slaves, kililng those who dont agree, and wearing robes. Try again.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  11. Fidei Coticula Crux

    In Islam, one finds a disturbing yet fascinating dichotomy. Most Muslims will declare that their men hold women in an elevated regard and believe that they must be protected. In comparison with the cultural context from which Islam emerged, there truly was an elevation of women. Yet Islam has deserved its reputation around the world for stifling and even enslaving women. Many Islamic women are both educated and successful, but most remain illiterate, hidden, and treated as property.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • BG

      You are so right.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  12. HotAirAce

    If believers do not like the rules of organizations such as FIFA, they should form their own organization rather than being so arrogant as to expect existing organizations to adhere to their, and potentially all other's, tribal myths.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  13. Colin

    Dear God:

    Please add "The dreams of 15 young girls to represent their country in their chosen sport" to the cosmically large list of things religion has ruined.

    An Atheist

    June 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • abc

      blaming religions for misunderstanding like this is like blaming physics when someone crashes their car.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Chad

      What difference does a headscarf make? FIFA should get over it, they look racist in this instance.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > What difference does a headscarf make? FIFA should get over it, they look racist in this instance.

      Islam is a race now?

      June 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  14. Jeff

    I find all religious people to be stupid when it comes to religion. They can be educated and intelligent yet they leave their mental faculties somewhere when it comes to religion. What a brainwashing job!

    June 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  15. Bill

    Thank you FIFA!!!!!!

    June 7, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  16. John Richardson

    It's simply amazing what the religious will come up with. It's perfectly okay for men AND women to play games that originated in the west with infidels, but only if OUR women are shrouded like nuns. It's like figuring out why the Amish can't have phones, unless the phone is outside connected to a telephone pole ...

    June 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Jose

      The amish didnt put up the telephone pole and having it outside the house means it doesnt interfer with their homelife

      June 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Simon C

      I would let them play under condition that the Iranian team is really consistent with regard to the whole traditional dress. Partial traditional dresses, susch as head scarves only, should not be allowed!

      Anyway, what is the exact harm?

      June 7, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Jose I hope you aren't serious, even if the Amish are.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Simon C I don't know what FIFA's exact rationale is, except that they seem to feel there is a safety issue. Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong. I don't know. But governing bodies are generally recognized to have the right to set standards for uniforms used by compet-itors. And it seems that they were happy to meet the Iranians half way with the partical head coverings. It is drearily typical of the radically religious to reject all compromise, even when the original dispute seems bizarrely random. I mean, if it's okay for Islamic women to play western sports amongst throngs of infidels in foreign lands, is the difference between a full and partial head scarf REALLY going to make all the difference? That just seems loony.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Lonie

      @John Richardson. You clearly have no understading of Amish life.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Lonie I don't claim expertise in Amish life, except for the matter of their inhumane puppy mills. But from what I have learned, there are a lot of rules and a lot of elaborate rationalizations for creating exceptions for getting around those rules, at least in part. And at the very heart of their ident=ity is this feeling of separateness from "the English". But boy do they love doing business with us heathens. The lives they actually live would be impossible if it weren't for this world they pretend not to be a part of.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  17. BG

    Why not just put them in burkas and tell them to stand in place on the field? Opposing teams can use them like pinball bumpers.

    "The Jordanian carefully lines up her bank shot off the Iranian fullback, and... Scorrrrrrrre!" When the Iranians play soccer we can call it "Bampur Pool"

    June 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • BG

      and for flippers they can use their smelly sandals! lol

      June 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  18. civiloutside

    Soccer is a high speed contact sport. I can understand FIFA having a concern with a cloth that circles the neck, as this would pose a choking/clotheslining hazard.

    June 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • David

      Agreed. Covering the back of the neck can also create a heat issue. Not allowing air to circulate around the neck increases the risk of the brain overheating and causing heat injuries to the players.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Craig

      Agreed on the choking hazard. As for the heat hazard, they train with the hijab, so they've acclimated their bodies to the heat. But in the world of soccer, there's a lot of dirty play. Opposing teams will likely use the hijab to assault the players.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  19. Mohamed Turay

    Am from Freetown-Sierra Leone.

    June 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  20. Mohamed Turay

    I think Every Human being has a right to practice his/her own religion (way of life), if they chose to put on any religious code of dressing let them be, but it must be tested for safety needs, let FIFA find a way which is better as FIFA say's FAIR PLAY not FEAR PLAY!

    June 7, 2011 at 2:02 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.