10 April 2010

Banning the Iranian girls

Things like the behaviour reported in this Reuter’s report in The Washington Post, 5 April 2010, drive me nuts:

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Iranian girls' soccer team have been kicked out of this year's first Youth Olympics because of a FIFA ban on playing in Islamic head scarves.

Iran's National Olympic Committee (NOC) had refused to let the team play at the August 14-26 Games in Singapore without the hijab and they have been replaced by Thailand, according to the Asian Football Confederation website (www.the-afc.com).

"The FIFA Executive Committee had no choice but to take the decision that Iran will not be able to participate in the inaugural Youth Olympic Football Tournaments," the AFC quoted a letter from FIFA's general secretary to the Iran Football Federation as saying. Soccer's tournaments at the Olympics are organized by the world governing body, whose rules allow only the wearing of a shirt or jersey, shorts, socks and footwear to play the game.

No choice?  Why did FIFA go to the trouble of drawing up rules that would rule out anyone wearing a hijab?

The world is a difficult enough place as it is, and it is more difficult for Iranian females than it is for most of us.  It would have been nice if the big men of FIFA had been big-hearted enough to find a way to allow these teenagers to play in a tournament for which they were clearly qualified.  Obama is trying to draw Iran into the world community, and FIFA gives succour and comfort to the hardliners, who will be able to say, “We told you so”. Brilliant.

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