FIFA Bans Iran's Women's Team - Page 2
While intrigue within FIFA itself is interesting enough, what is perhaps even more fascinating is the response from Iran to all of this. To clarify the situation, first consider that Iran is considered a conservative Muslim nation, at least in practice on the streets. That is why the Iranian women's team got into this whole situation in the first place. Their desire to dress conservatively in observation of not only their religious belief system, but also their societal traditions didn't sit well with FIFA. There is a thin line that the organization is traversing here. While it may be right and good to decry politicizing the game with outward indications of one's beliefs, it is something else entirely to require that women drop observing their religious faiths when they set foot on the pitch.
Muslim women in conservative cultures have enough trouble as it is getting involved in sports in the first place. The fact that Iran managed to put together a team at all is a statement in itself. Saudi women are still battling to get the ability just to exercise, and in spite of high rates of obesity and diabetes in that nation, are not accomplishing that goal in a meaningful way.
So, understanding that conservative Muslim cultures can and often do frown upon women exercising at all, it is particularly surprising to see Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's response to the Iranian Women's soccer team being excluded from competition by FIFA. "We will deal with those who carried out this ugly job. We follow definite rights of our girls," Ahmadinejad said. It's not a good sign when even the arguably crazy dictator of a generally backward nation when it comes to women's rights starts crying against an organization for stomping on the rights of his nation's women.
Whatever the reasoning within FIFA for this decision, hopefully the issue will not just fade away with time. Soccer is a game that brings nations together even just for an hour and a half. It is one of the few peaceful common grounds for otherwise warring factions. As for the Iranian women, simply put - let them play.