Middle East

Iranian Women's Soccer Team Disqualified From Olympics Over Headscarves

The Iranian women's national soccer team lines up before its qualifying match against Jordan for the 2012 London Olympic Games in Amman, June 3, 2011. The Iranian team was banned from the match on Friday in the second round of qualifiers in protest against guidelines on its headscarves.

The Iranian women's national soccer team lines up before its qualifying match against Jordan for the 2012 London Olympic Games in Amman, June 3, 2011. The Iranian team was banned from the match on Friday in the second round of qualifiers in protest against guidelines on its headscarves.  (Reuters)

The Iranian women’s soccer team was defeated even before it could compete for a spot in the 2012 summer Olympics -- sidelined by the Muslim players' headscarves.

The team was to play an Olympic qualifying match against Jordan last Friday, but officials of the international football association, FIFA, disqualified the team because the players' Islamic headscarves violate the association's dress code, the Washington Post reported.

“This ruling means that women soccer in Iran is over,” Shahrzad Mozafar, the team’s former head coach, told the Post. She said the Iranian government will not send women abroad for competitions if they cannot wear headscarves.

Iran’s team designed special headscarves that can be wrapped tightly around players’ heads and necks after FIFA announced in April 2010 that it planned to ban headscarves in the Olympics. But Iranian officials were “informed thoroughly” before the match that the headscarves covering players’ necks are banned for safety reasons, an unidentified FIFA official told the Post.

Prince Ali of Jordan, a FIFA vice president who officially took office Wednesday, vowed to get the headscarf ban lifted.

“Football is about fair play and respect and I am confident that we can resolve this issue,” he said, according to The Jordan Times.

His comments were echoed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjead, who slammed FIFA for instituting the ban.

"These are the dictators and colonialists who want to impose their lifestyle on others," Ahmadinejad said in a news conference, according to The National. "We will deal with those who carried out this ugly job. We follow definite rights of our girls."

The Islamic dress code observed in Iran requires all women to cover their bodies, head to toe, and female athletes who compete abroad must follow the dress code.