As this story from Reuters shows, there is no point in compromising on the Olympic Charter's ban on the interference of religion in sport. After a small religiously imposed head covering was allowed, Iran now wants a full head covering:
FIFA say Iran's women were warned about dress
Mon Jun 6, 2011 11:46am EDT
LONDON (Reuters) - Iran were warned about dress code rules which led to their women's team being banned from an Olympic qualifying match last week, soccer's world governing body FIFA said on Monday.
Iran had said it would complain to FIFA after the women's team were stopped from playing a second-round qualifier for next year's London Olympics because of their full-body strip, which includes a head scarf and conforms to the Islamic dress code.
Opponents Jordan were awarded a 3-0 win and Iranian officials said the decision could cost them a place in the 2012 Games.
FIFA said both teams had been reminded before Friday's match about its rules and that, as a result, Jordan had decided not to select several players. "FIFA's decision in March 2010 which permitted that players be allowed to wear a cap that covers their head to the hairline, but does not extend below the ears to cover the neck, was still applicable," FIFA said in an e-mail to Reuters. "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. The match commissioner and match referee therefore decided to apply correctly the Laws of the Game, which ended in the match being abandoned."
In Tehran, the head of women's affairs at Iran's football federation said Iran had made changes to its women's kit after a previous FIFA ban last year and believed it had been given the approval of the world federation and its president, Sepp Blatter.
"We made the required corrections and played a match afterwards," Farideh Shojaei told Reuters TV in an interview. "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'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."
Shojaei added: "In reality, this kit is neither religious, nor political, nor will it lead to harm to a player. " [Note: the women are obliged to wear this gear for religious reasons, so it's hard to swallow this line.] She said the ruling meant the team were now unlikely to qualify for the Olympics. "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."
And from Inside the Games:
June 7 - New FIFA vice-president Prince Ali of Jordan promised today that he will try to find a solution to the row which has seen the chances of Iran's women's Olympic football team competing at London 2012 because of their refusal to stop wearing their Islamic headscarf.
"This is an important issue that I will raise with the Asian Football Confederation and with FIFA," said Prince Ali, who officially joined FIFA's ruling Executive Board in Zurich last week. "We will work together to find a solution that respects the rules of the game and the culture at the same time. Football is about fair play and respect and I am confident that we can resolve this issue."
Iran's Ambassador to Jordan, Mustafa Muslah Zada, claimed that the "the entire issue was politically motivated". He said: "FIFA should reconsider its decisions which harm Iranian players. If FIFA continues to impose a certain dress on women, it will lose a lot of players from Arab and Muslim countries. It is not a sports or football issue. It is a political issue. Politics should not be mixed with sports. What happened was a violation of human rights as well as international and Olympic Charters." [Note: Hah!]
A similar row involving Iran's junior women's team erupted before last year's Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. Islamic guidelines require [sic] women to cover their hair in public but the laws of football requires the neck and ears to remain uncovered.
Following that row, to be in line with FIFA rules, Iran's teams designed a special headscarf that players wrapped tightly around their heads and necks, which allowed them to participate in the Games in Singapore. "We made the required corrections and played a match afterwards," said Farideh Shojaei, the head of women's affairs at Iran's Football Federation. We played...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."
Shahrzad Mozafar, who was the coach of the Iranian girls team in Singapore, claimed that this latest decision could have serious implications for the future of women's football in the Islamic Republic. "This ruling means that women soccer in Iran is over," she said. "Headscarves are simply what we wear in Iran. When a serious women athlete can't participate internationally, which ambitions are left for her?"
But Prince Ali, whose siblings Prince Faisal and Princess Haya are both members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), vowed to find a solution so that women from Islamic countries would not be discriminated against. "I am a firm supporter of women's football and I am keen on addressing all related issues to ensure that all girls and women can play this beautiful game across the continent," he said.
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