Iranian Women's Soccer Team Loses Olympic Bid Over Islamic Dress Ruling

Iranian Women's Soccer Team

Photo: Ali Jarekji / Reuters

The Iranian women's soccer team.

Iran's women's soccer team is crying foul after losing a bid to compete in an Olympic qualifier—because its Islamic dress violates Fifa rules, the Guardian reports.

In keeping with their Islamic faith, the athletes sport modest white tracksuits trimmed in red and paired with white turtlenecks and head coverings. But according to officials for Fifa, the football association's governing body, the conservative, full-body uniforms are in violation of rules against "political, religious, commercial, or personal messages" on kits.

Following a Fifa ban last year, the head of women's affairs for Iran's football federation said the team had modified its uniform to appease officials. But the team was barred from playing in an Olympic qualifier with Jordan, a matter team officials are now taking up with the world ruling body.

"We made the required corrections and played a match afterwards," Farideh Shojaei tells the paper. "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.

"[The Iran football federation chief Ali] Kafashian took it [the uniform] to Fifa and showed it to [Fifa president] Sepp Blatter. And they proved that this conduct conforms to the fourth article of the Fifa constitution, which says [a uniform should be] devoid of politics or religion. In reality, this kit is neither religious, nor political, nor will it lead to harm [to] a player. They proved this, and Sepp Blatter accepted this and we participated in the Olympics."

Shojaei asserts that the team's hopes of competing in the 2012 Olympics in London have been dashed because they were unable to play the qualifier.

"It is extremely difficult to predict what results will come out of this, but I think it unlikely because the preliminary games will not be repeated," Shojaei says. "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."

Fifa has not yet commented on the matter.