It’s neither Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, nor IS-ruled regions of Syria and Iraq, nor post-Islamic Revolution Iran. Yet, a women’s football match at Malda in West Bengal was cancelled two days before it was scheduled after some Muslim hardliners complained that soccer costumes are “too tight” and argued that women should not be wearing such dresses.
The incident and the role of the administration has come under sharp criticisms from politicians and sports persons. Most members of the Progressive Youth Club, that organised the match, are Muslims. The incident happened at Chandipur village in Malda district.
The match between Kolkata XI (comprising some national team players) and North Bengal XI was to commemorate the golden jubilee of the club. The club’s president Reja Rajir said the aim of the match was to motivate girls of the area to play outdoor games.
“It’s amusing that the administration agreed with those hardliners who argued women playing football and watching them play is equally sinful,” Rajir told HT.
While the block development officer of Harishchandrapur-I, Biplab Roy, said the match was cancelled “in consultation with the district magistrate following apprehensions of communal tension,” Trinamool Congress MLA and minister Sabitri Mitra supported the ban.
Rajir accused Mufti Maqsud, Imam of a local mosque, of threatening him with dire consequences should he continued with his plan to hold the match.
“This is unbelievable. Is this 21st century India? Would they next ask Sania Mirza to appear the tennis courts wearing full pants?” asked an irate Nausaba Alam, a footballer who had played for India reacting ON the incident.
“Where is Bengal heading? This is unbelievable that some religious hardliners would raise such regressive demands and the administration would succumb under their pressure,” Mohammad Selim, CPI(M) MP, told HT.