x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Headscarf ban by Fifa has been imposed by 'dictators', says Iran

Jordan's Prince Ali pledges to mediate find a solution to row after Iran have to forfeit a 2012 Olympic qualifier against them.

The Iran women's team were barred from playing an Olympic qualifier against Jordan in Amman on Friday. AFP
The Iran women's team were barred from playing an Olympic qualifier against Jordan in Amman on Friday. AFP

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iran president, described Fifa as "colonialists" yesterday for banning his country's women's football team from wearing headscarves.

Mustafa Musleh Zadeh, Iran's ambassador to Jordan, went further by saying that the ban was "inhumane" and "politically motivated."

The remarks by Ahmadinejad were the highest since the team forfeited a 2012 Olympic qualifier against Jordan last Friday because they would not play without the hijabs, with their opponents awarded an automatic 3-0 victory.

"Theses are the dictators and colonialists who want to impose their lifestyle on others," Ahmadinejad said in a news conference.

"We will deal with those who carried out this ugly job. We follow definite rights of our girls."

Earlier yesterday, Prince Ali of Jordan said that he would raise the issue with world and Asian football bodies.

"We will work together to find a solution that respects the rules of the game and the culture at the same time," Prince Ali, King Abdullah's half brother and the new Fifa vice-president, told Agence France-Presse.

"Football is about fair play and respect and I am confident that we can resolve this issue."

Jordanian news reports have said "tough penalties are awaiting Iran's team" after they refused to remove the hijab, suggesting a ban from Fifa competitions.

The Islamic dress code in Iran requires all women to cover their body, head to toe. In order to be allowed to function domestically and compete internationally, Iran's team play in full tracksuits, headscarves and neck warmers.

The world football governing body banned Iranian women from competing last April due to their plans to wear headscarves in matches, forcing the team to modify their kit, which was reportedly accepted by Fifa.

However, on Monday, Fifa said in an e-mail to Reuters: "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.

"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."

Fifa banned the hijab in 2007 and this year extended the safety rule to include neck warmers.

Iran also forfeited their match against Vietnam on Sunday as part of a round-robin group playing in Amman, Jordan.