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. programmergirl

    To Modesty#1 – What an idiot you are! You have it backwards: WE Western women have not been brainwashed to wear less clothes. We have been liberated to wear whatever we choose, how much or little clothing we wear is OUR choice. If it's cold out, you won't see much of my body as it will be covered in jeans, sweater and a parka. In summertime, I am free to wear shorts, a bikini or whatever I want. It is the Islam women who have been brainwashed to think sweating in 100 degree weather is okay because of "modesty". What a bunch of nonsense!

    Way to go, FIFA – GOOD JOB!!

    June 7, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Modesty#1

      Fire of hell is greater than 100 degrees.

      You are so naive to think it's you decision. You have been brainwashed to think this way. Why is it that if any company wants to sell something, put a women in a skimpy dress and you've got it made. Western women are being used and exploited and you actually think you are liberated. You spend countless hours in the morning dressing up and for who...men... I'd love to see women go out without makeup and modestly dressed but that would be so wrong and no guy would look at you.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Modesty1 Well, I guess you'll be able to confirm for us how hot hell is when you go there yourself.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Sassan

      programmergirl: As an Iranian, I support this ban. We must send a message to the clerics and fanatics around the world that we in the west do not bow down to barbarism and that human rights and in particular women's rights, is a universal plight; and you cannot use your backwards and medieval religion to justify barbarism. Get in the 21st century, or don't be expected to be treated equally.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:14 am |
  2. Tom929

    No religion should be given special treatment. Everyone should be treated equally. If they don't want to follow the rules, then they shouldn't play.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  3. @Modesty#1

    What is your deal? If these women wore regular soccer attire, they would be exposing their knees, the arm from the elbow down, and their neck. Please, tell what is immodest about that, according to your argument, not their religion...

    June 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm |

    I am sick and tired of this constant interference in Muslim's lives. Let our kids live a normal life and enjoy their games too instead of banning their games.
    I am professional engineer from India but living is US for 20+ years. My girl is in middle school and she loves soccer. Fortunately our club AYSO has been very understanding and let her wear the hijab. This season she is the best player in her team.
    Banning is not the answer – shed ignorance and get educated about other religions and cultures. Talk to your Muslims neighbors and co-workers and very soon you will know they are just human like you, the love their religion and love others and often the most peaceful people you will ever come across. Stop believing the mass media and their constant hero worship (coverage) of infinitely minuscule number of fundamental types. These types exist in every single religion and country and often at a higher percentage.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Rhonda

      And in every country and in every society there are rules. In Olympic soccer there are specific rules. You should also be teaching your children to obey the rules and the laws of the country they are in. It's called respect. The game was not banned. They forfeited it because they refused to obey the rules of the game.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  5. Shacho

    wonder even legal (in Islam law) for Islam people to play western sports, not to mention live life with electricity, television, western design costumes, auto, plane, train, etc all invented by western people who warship opposing religion. If you insiste your way to others, please dont only enjoy good things made by others.

    People only respect you to grant your wish when you fulill your duty before asking your rights.

    This is especially true those who deman Islamic center to be built in NY at such location which many American naturally does not feel right.

    If Isram people woud like to wear tarban, would like to build Islamic center in NY, do your duty first. Go get all bad Islam fanatic yourself and only after people will start listen what you want. Dont ask before you do your duty.

    One more thing. American people should sepak their mind. Life is short and no time to be so politically correct which we in asia call you are lieing to make you look more intelligent than you are.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Modesty#1

      I would advise you to look back into history and see who laid the foundation for today's technology. While the West was in Dark Ages, Muslim scientists were excelling in every field.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • @Modesty#1

      Really? I count one – sitting on oil. The West was the industrial revolution. Yes, it has spread, particularly to the far east. But what has the Middle east done?

      June 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  6. MSfromCA

    I find women's sports in general from restrictive Muslim countries a little strange. There was an Iranian woman in my cardio kick boxing class (with her husband, of course) and she wore long sleeves, long pants, and head scarf. At some point, you just have to say, "this is not for me" or dump the restrictive clothing. Trying to do both is just d u m b. What is next – beach volleyball? Swimming?

    June 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • ASHRAF

      I totally agree with this comment. Of course you try your best to play as many sports as possible trying not to compromise on your personally beliefs. But soon you have to draw a line yourself and back out. In my college days I wanted to compete for body building (looking at the mirror now, I must be crazy...) but just can't so gave up 🙂

      June 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  7. Modesty#1

    The problem is that it burns the western people to see women dressed modestly. It's plain and simple as that. Men in the west have brainwashed women to keep as little clothing as possible just to please men but women being stupid think it's all part of their freedom to shed all clothing.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • EL GRECO

      you are living in the middle ages and it is time for you all to go hide in north west pakistan !

      June 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Manmadelaws

      Absolutley... you are so right...

      June 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • David in Jax, FL

      Really? Because seeing a woman's hair and neck just absolutely drives me bonkers. Seriously. It's got nothing to do with "modesty" and everyting to do with the rules of the game. If I wanted to wear my Crucifix outside my shirt because I'm proud to be a Christian, I'd be told the same thing. Take it off. It's a safety hazard and violates the rules of the game. People of every religious background, and yes, I'm pointing a finger at Muslims in this case, need to realize that not everything done that conflits with your religion is meant as an affront.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  8. mslane

    Yea, finally common sense rules...the whole hijab, chador , burka, is a controlling mechanism fabricated by muslim men to keep their women as possessions. But, how they do it is by brainwashing the young girls at an early age saying it is a sign of modesty. Scholars in islam have even stated this...purely a macho control thing.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Ally

      Also, I'd like to know the name of even ONE of those so-called scholars who stated hijab is a "macho thing"

      June 7, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  9. Point out the obvious

    Let me point out the obvious. Soccer is and always will be a Christian and more specifically Catholic sport. Period. Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, Portugal, England (Protestant), Mexico, and the list goes on. The majority of the FIFA board are French. In France and Belgium it is illegal to wear a Burqa in public. Why you might ask. Well Europe has a serious immigration problem with North African Muslims (much worse than the American immigration matter) and these immigrants do not conform to French/Belgian culture/values. As they are a nation of immigrants they have passed these bans by overwhelming majority. This is just FIFA mirroring European politics - simple and obvious.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Point out the obvious

      * not a nation of immigrants

      June 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Soccer

      The whole world plays soccer. Developed countries are the best at all sports. A large chunk of developed countries are christian. France banned burqas in public schools (not in public) because children are not given an option, it is a oppressive and demeaning practice used to brainwash children.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • soccer

      My bad. It was completely banned in public. I disagree with that decision. School, yes. Public is bad.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Point out the obvious

      Riddle me this...if it wasn't for people yelling stupidly about freedom of religion against the European Burqa bans you'd be able to understand the issue rationally. It is illegal in those countries to cover your face in public (motorcycle helmet, ski mask, halloween mask, etc) because of the security threat. The burqa is no different than the helmet or ski mask. Furthermore a burqa is not required by Islam. In fact it is not a religious garment at all but instead a cultural/ethnic garment. The koran does not require it. Enough said.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • John Richardson

      The Netherlands and Germany have been very successful and have large non-Catholic populations. The game originated in the UK, where Catholics are rare. It's the one team sport that has been slowly encompassing the globe more than any other ever has or likely will. Not much of a fan myself, but this is THE international team sport and more and more "third world" teams will start joining the ranks of the elite.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  10. Bruce

    I don't understand why CNN elected not to actually put a quote in here from someone actually defending the rule itself, which was made because of safety concerns, where the "world soccer official" actually "defends" the ruling by explaining what happens to the athletes if they are allowed to wear things that cover their necks.

    What would have happened had the officials looked the other way, allowed these women to play soccer in the hijab in spite of the rules, and one of them died from an accidental choking or one of them were injured through heat stroke because the hijab trapped too much heat at the base of the neck?

    June 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  11. Syed

    hell with fifa. must keep the hijab as its necessary for their religion

    June 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Rhonda

      No, it is not necessary for playing soccer. A head covering is for praying. They have taken the issue too far. This is ridiculous.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Sydney


      hell with fifa? How about hell with you and your "religion" too.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Ally

      No Rhonda, the head covering is NOT just for praying. Muslim women are commanded by God in the Quran to cover from their head when they leave the home. It is meant for women to be modest when out in public so strange men aren't inclined to harming them in any way.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Samy

      Hell with Muslim women playing soccer. Why not you all have your own Halal soccer games for muslims only.The rest of the world will not miss you

      June 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Rhonda

      Where is that in the Quran?

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

      And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their headcoverings to cover their bosoms, and not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers...[Surah Nur-Verse 31]

      Also in Surah Ahzab-Verse 59:

      O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their outer garments close around themselves; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.

      June 7, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  12. ATLdoogie

    I bet underneath they're all wearing Victoria's Secret.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • cougar

      touche ... about time someone stood up against this religious bullcrap ... well done fifa

      June 7, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • poulose

      good one.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  13. GSA

    They have been playing with Hijabs for so long (years and years) without any incidents at all. Do a bit of research and see which country this ban started in and why. Seems like said country pressured Fifa and had enough power that their request was met even though it was driven by hate and politics.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • David

      Sooo, am I supposed to guess or do you actually have a country in mind? I'll bet you are trying to blame America or Israel, right!

      June 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Les

      Actually, he probably meant France.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • BG

      And everyone knows how smart GSA is, don't we? Why don't you get off your high horse and be humble bfore God.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Mahna Mahna

      If you believe in God, then you would realize that he already knows what you look like naked, what your O face looks like and he watches you make #2 every day. He's seen more than your run of the mill doctor. I doubt hijabs are God's lead.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • BG

      @ GSA

      Wasn't me. Seems that Zeb/Sum Dude is having fun again. Someone apparently p issed him off by calling him out a few stories ago. Now he's on the warpath.

      June 7, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  14. David

    How long do you think it will be before some mus li m zealot sends a death threat to the FIFA president.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • cougar

      probably later today ... mind you Blatter????

      June 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  15. tim

    In this issue, no one is trying to push Islam on other people, only requesting their freedom to worship it. I think when something like religion tells you what to wear, it shouldn't be brought into the work place. You aren't guaranteed freedoms at work, you conform to their rules, or find a different job. As someone said before, let them play, be distracted by that ridiculous head dress, lose, and whine about something else. If they don't like being oppressed, find a new religion. I am so disgusted by people claiming what their parents worship is what their religion is, despite 99% of those idiots not actively devoted to their "religion."

    June 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  16. Suzanne

    FIFA is wrong. Here in Michigan girls play soccer in hijabs a lot, and there is no problem at all. No one complains, not the girls in the hijabs, not the girls not wearing hijabs. It isn't even a question, and no one thinks twice about it. Why create problems when there are none? Kids get it – we have differences. Why can't adults get it?

    June 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • asdf

      Because the world isn't sweet like your little candy land. This is an official match for the Olympics. It's about discipline. It's also a sign of disrespect to the other country if you don't follow the correct protocols.

      There are no problems here whatsoever, stop imagining them.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • David

      Because the adults live in the real world and those kids are brainwashed by teachers into believing anything mus lim is ok but have a hissy fit over a cross or the American flag, or prayer by any other religion.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Maqicman

      They could have worn polo necked inserts and conjunction with FIFA approved attire. Never mind that they said they understood the rules before hand.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Bruce

      In this case there are established rules, which would have to be actively ignored by the officials in order to let them play with hijabs. Had they done that, and something went wrong (overheating, choking, neck injury, etc.), then there would have been a HUGE liability issue to deal with.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • DanoMcRoo

      Are you saying that righteous, pure muslim girls are playing with unwashed infidels? Does the koran/quran/rand-mcnally allow that?

      June 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  17. icu

    My goodness, they just look so hot. Long sleeves, pants, scarves and a shirt over the undershirt. How is this even remotely comfortable to play in? People confuse Islam with cultural tradition. This has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with how some Muslims believe women should not bare any skin unnecessarily in public. It's an oppressive tradition sold off as religious dogma. BS.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Modesty#1

      And from which university did you get your doctorate in Islamic Studies? The problem is that it burns the western people to see women dressed modestly. It's plain and simple as that. Men in the west have brainwashed women to keep as little clothing as possible just to please men but women being stupid think it's all part of their freedom to shed all clothing.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Otto

      @ Modesty#1, then why don't muslim men not also cover themselves, why do they only require the women to be fully covered? Doe sthe Quran say the women have to be dressed modestly but for the men it's okat to be less modest? And you can dress modestly without covering every piece of yoru body. And no, western men do not want women naked in public either, we just don't mind seeing legs and arms, just like we don't cover our own legs and arms unless it's cold.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  18. Olaf Big

    Man, you just scratched the surface. Look deeper, and you'll find that any religion with a possible exception of ancient Greek mythology is fubar...

    June 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  19. Ironkitten

    This is shameful. FIFA should be ashamed. These atheletes have trained hard and made it to this level and they are kicked out over their uniforms? Ridiculous.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • David

      Read the article again. They weren't kicked out, they walked off the field and forfeited. Probably because they knew they would be stoned to death if they showed a little skin.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  20. michael

    I am sick and tired of this Hijab thing. Any religion that dictate to women to cover their head, and toes, and whatever, is f....up.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • sarah

      i know, right, the world would be such a better place if men forced women their bodies (as if they would ever choose to do that out of their own free will!). It would make hunger go away, it would create so many jobs, it would allow women to play sport (wait, i thought muslim women were oppressed and couldn't play sports or leave the house?), it would end war, it would end disease...it all stems from modesty. duh, winning.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • David

      Don't forget the religion that would like to see women "barefoot and pregnant". (that would be christianity)

      June 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Volntyr


      June 7, 2011 at 4:24 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.