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IRAN CRIES FOUL OVER FIFA HEADSCARF BAN

JORDAN-IRAN

  FIFA has done it again! Already hit by a bribery scandal football’s ruling body is now being blasted by critics around the world for being both racist and sexist after banning the Islamic uniform of the Iranian women’s football team. 
   After the women had taken to the pitch for a key match in Amman, Jordan, on June 3 the referee announced that FIFA had disqualified the team because their traditional Muslim uniform of long-sleeved shirts, long pants and headscarves did not meet FIFA regulations.
   The disqualification quashed the women’s dreams for the 2012 Olympics and several of the team fell to their knees weeping.
 “We were shocked and upset,” team captain Niloofar Ardalan told Newsweek. “We couldn’t mask our disappointment.”
  The dispute has reverberated far beyond the world of football and the ban has not only hurt the Iranian team, it could potentially disqualify dozens of other Muslim players with headscarves inside and outside the Middle East. 
  For their part, FIFA officials have defended the decision by claiming the headscarf could pose a choking hazard.
  The Iranian women’s team has already faced plenty of obstacles on its road to the Olympics. By law, Iranian women are required to cover their hair, neck, arms, and legs in public—and that includes the football pitch. 
  Religious conservatives in Iran have long argued against women playing sports in public or even attending football matches with male players.  After years of lobbying by female athletes, a national women’s football team was finally formed in 2005, though male spectators are banned from attending their matches.
  Conservative critics still lash out regularly at female athletes. Last year Grand Ayatollah Ali Safi Golpayegani said that female athletes winning sports medals is a form of “humiliation.”

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