This picture saddens me. It saddens me because the fact that Iran actually has a women’s soccer team and they are not allowed to play with head scarves forcing them to choose between their religion and their passion. FIFA banned the Iranian women’s national team from an Olympic qualifier because of their headwear citing that “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.” FIFA also went further to state that it does not permit team kits that cover the ears or neck for safety reasons.
I watch a lot of soccer, and I can tell you that this is just ignorance and bigotry hidden behind bureaucracy. Many European countries are having issues with the influx of Muslim immigrants and are creating laws to force individuals to adapt and conform to the European norm. FIFA is attempting to do the same thing.
First off to challenge the whole “religious” thing there are countless players who cross themselves when stepping onto the pitch, or kiss the cross they wear when they score or look up and thank God when they win a big match. Try to separate religion and soccer is impossible because for many they are the same thing.
“Players and officials shall not display political, religious, commercial or personal messages”… Not display commercial messages? Really? Ever heard of Samsung, they sponsor Chelsea. AIG, Man-U. Emirate airlines, AC Milan and on and on. I think FIFA broke it’s own rules when they start emblazoning jerseys with ads.
As for the safety issue, have you seen soccer hair? Ronaldinho, one of the most talented and loved players of the game has a huge mop of hair. What is to prevent players from pulling it? Why are there are no restrictions on hair length? A scarf around the head is no more dangerous, especially if it is snug fitting like these ones are. In fact, the entire outfit had been re-designed to meet FIFA’s standards and had apparently been approved.
It is one thing to demand that someone’s religious beliefs not impede the ability to communicate or safety For example to be able to see the face of the person if they are enacting some official business like getting a drivers license or voting. There is a need to be able to confirm identity or conduct business unhindered, but in this case there is no hindrance to the Iran women’s team ability to communicate with the referees, officials, each other or the other team. There is no reason other than bigotry to enact this ruling.
I am no fan of religion. I would like to see people put away their imaginary friends and silly superstitions, but that goes for all of them, not just the muslims. When I see this team of women weeping because once again a bunch of men have told them they cannot do something because they’re girls it breaks my heart. You have a bunch of men in FIFA arguing with a bunch of men in the Iranian government over what a group of women should or should not be allowed to wear. What the fuck is wrong with this picture?
If ever there was a country, if ever there was a time when women needed to be allowed to play this is it. Here’s hoping that the various men’s soccer teams around the world can show their support. If not for the love of God, then for the love of the game.