Iran’s dream of competing in the London 2012 Olympic women’s soccer tournament have been crushed by an unexpected ruling that their Islamic dress broke FIFA rules, a football federation official in Tehran said on Monday.
Iran is complaining to the world soccer body after its women were banned from playing, moments before an Olympic qualifier against Jordan last week, due to their full-body strip that includes a head scarf.
The head of women’s affairs at Iran's football federation said Iran had made changes to its women’s kit after a FIFA ban last year and believed it had been given the approval of the world federation and of its president, Sepp Blatter.
“We made the required corrections and played a match afterwards,” Farideh Shojaei said.
“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.”
In order to comply with the Islamic dress code which is mandatory in the Islamic Republic, Iran’s women footballers play in full tracksuits and headcoverings that conceal their hair. FIFA made no immediate comment on the controversy.
Brunei and Saudi Arabia have banned women from competing in any sporting activity.
FIFA has banned the use of the hijab in football.
Roqaya al-Gassra, an athlete from Bahrain, competed in the 400 metres in Beijing totally covered, thus openly demonstrating a political and religious stance.