Iran’s female footballers in action after head scarf ban lifted
Five years of frustration are over. Team Russia were the first to test the Iranian female futsal squad after FIFA finally allowed them to wear hijabs on the pitch.
Women from Iran are required to cover their head and neck due to the country's religious laws, and the same applies to footballers.FIFA however had refused to let players wear the hijab, citing safety concerns over metal pins used to fasten the head scarf.With neither side willing to back down, the Iranian women's Olympic team were forced to pull out of a qualifier with Jordan last year.However, football's governing body finally overturned its ban – after Velcro was used instead of the pins, overcoming FIFA's objections.“We spent a lot of time trying to convince FIFA that there was no problem whatsoever in playing in a hijab,” Farideh Shojaei, the Iranian Football Federation’s vice president, said. “We are really happy that they overturned the ban and that we can now play in headscarves. And I can tell you that wearing the hijab doesn't affect our players' performance, and we are just so happy that we can now compete in international competitions.”When the women's futsal team took on their Russian counterparts, there were certainly some fireworks as both sides showed a lot of desire to win.Unfortunately for Iran, despite going an early goal up, they went on to eventually lose 2-1, but their head coach says it's all part of the learning curve.“Russia was in Iran two months ago for two friendly matches,” coach Shahrzad Mozaraf told RT. “The result was 2-2 and 1-0 for Russia. But today we really wanted to win, but Russia have more experience than us.” Football is developing quickly in Iran, and there is now a thriving domestic league with a number of competitions.There are around 50,000 women playing either football or the indoor version of 'futsal' in Iran, and there are also a number of rising stars hoping to carry on the sport’s rapid rise.