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Football
FIFA firm over Iran Hijab ban
Complaint from Iran falls on deaf ears after women stopped from playing moments before London 2012 Olympic qualifier.
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2011 13:21
A player is comforted after withdrawing from the match against Jordan in Amman on June 3 [Reuters]

The Iranian women's football team have had their London 2012 Olympic hopes dashed by an unexpected ruling that their women's football team's Islamic dress broke FIFA rules, a football federation official in Tehran said.

FIFA on Monday rejected a complaint from Iran after its women were banned from playing moments before an Olympic qualifier against Jordan last week, due to their full-body strip that includes a head scarf.

The chief of women's affairs at Iran's football federation told the Reuters news agency that Iran had made changes to its women's kit after a FIFA ban last year, and believed it had been given the approval of the world federation and of its president, Sepp Blatter.

"We made the required corrections and played a match afterwards," Farideh Shojaei said.

"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 said its match officials were right to stop the team from playing wearing Islamic headscarves.

'Informed thoroughly'

Iranian officials were "informed thoroughly" before Friday's match against Jordan that the hijab scarf covering a women's neck is banned for safety reasons, FIFA said.

The world governing body said that Jordan, some of whose players also wear scarves, accepted the rule and "decided not to select a number of players."

Ready to play: Iran walk out onto the pitch in Amman before the match was halted [Reuters] 

"(Iran football federation chief, Ali) Kafashian took it to FIFA and showed it to Mr Sepp Blatter. And they proved that this conduct conforms to the fourth article of the FIFA constitution, which says (a kit should be) devoid of politics or religion," Shojaei said.

"In reality, this kit is neither religious, nor political, nor will it lead to harm a player. They proved this, and Mr Sepp Blatter accepted this and we participated 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."

Whatever the result of Iran's complaint, it was unlikely that the team, who were handed a 3-0 defeat in the unplayed qualifier in Amman, would qualify for 2012, Shojaei said.

"It is extremely difficult to predict what results will come out of this, but I think it unlikely because the preliminary games will not be repeated.

"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."

FIFA banned the hijab in 2007 and has extended the safety rule to include neck warmers, or 'snoods', which had become popular in European leagues last season.

At the 2010 Youth Olympics, Iran's girls covered their hair with specially designed caps.

Source:
Agencies
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