Tuesday, June 8, 2010

FIFA's ban on the hijab

As we gear up for some World Cup-inspired festivities, it's sobering to note how the sport's governing body FIFA has recently denied Iran from entering a women's football team in the upcoming Youth Olympics because they all wear hijab.

Now, don't for a minute think this is because FIFA are a champion of women's rights, or that they make rules like this based on any kind of common sense. After all, this is the same FIFA whose President Sepp Blatter has previously urged female players to wear skimpier outfits to increase the popularity of the game. And this is the same FIFA who several years ago made it a yellow card offense - the same as making a dangerous tackle - for any male player to remove his shirt while celebrating a goal.

Now, as I understand it, Iran mandates that its female players wear a form of hijab when they play. This, for me, is very wrong; I have no problem with the women wearing it, but only if they are also given the choice not to as well.

But for FIFA to ban it? That's some major cultural insensitivity from an organisation that is meant to represent the "World Game".

And in this tussle between FIFA and Iran, who are the real losers? You guessed it - these gifted young women who just want to play soccer.

(Hat tip: From a Left Wing)

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