FIFA Bans Iran's Women's Team
FIFA has been having its own share of problems for while now, primarily centered on allegations of ethics violations within the leadership. Bribery of officials, or at least the intent to do so, was one of the issues that came up to bite former FIFA Presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hamman of Qatar. Of course, Qatar will apparently remain the host of the 2022 World Cup, so perhaps the point of the allegations was simply to remove him from the presidential race against Sepp Blatter.
Other than wanting to extend his 13-year reign as the head of FIFA, one could wonder precisely why would Blatter be so determined to stay in power at this juncture? He's 75 years old. It's not like anyone is suggesting an early retirement age for him, obviously.
Now, if one believes that Blatter really is a very bad man, capable of covering up unethical behaviors of certain people, while hanging others out to dry (perhaps what was done to Hamman), considering all of this in the context of the Iranian Women's team might be much more disturbing than it is on first glance. Iran's team was forced to forfeit to Jordan, crushing their Olympic aspirations, because Blatter and FIFA stated that their uniforms did not meet the standards of the organization for competition. This team had previously been banned from wearing hijabs, so they designed form-fitting hoods that cover their necks and hair to please FIFA's requirements. They had practiced before the match without a word from officials about the hoods, but when it came time to compete, they were told they were unacceptable.
According to FIFA, there were concerns about safety, primarily choking hazards. This is soccer, not American football - presumably players are not supposed to be running about on the field grabbing each other, unless they have a specific desire to be ejected from the game. Given Blatter's previous statements about having women players adopt more sexy attire on the pitch, perhaps it really isn't about safety concerns at all, but about the fact that the Iranian team wouldn't be offering fans the opportunity to view some skin. Arguably, Hamman would probably have been much more understanding of the Iranian women's needs, and may not have ruled that they could not participate in the Olympic trials. So,was Hamman really guilty of ethics violations, or was this simply an easy way for Blatter to ensure his vision of sex-kitten-style-female-footballers at FIFA competitions? Since Hamman was suspended before being found guilty, perhaps the world will never know.Continued on the next page