Iranian Female Soccer Player Publicly Decries Ban For Playing Without Hijab
A professional soccer player who once played for the Iranian women’s national futsal team has publicly spoken out against a ban she says was imposed on her for not wearing the hijab while playing the sport during a private trip abroad.
“I never thought I would never be able to play in my country because I played without a piece of cloth on my head or covering my legs during a private trip,” Shiva Amini wrote on her Instagram page on April 26, 2017.
“I’m sorry that the hijab is more important to them (Iranian government) than the sport itself,” she added. “What do you want to prove by eliminating people like me who have always wanted to make Iran proud?”
Iranian women are required to wear the hijab, the head-to-toe-covering Islamic dress code, at all times in public.
Amini said she had been banned from Iran’s national team because she did not cover her hair and wore shorts while playing abroad in a private capacity.
Two days later, Iran’s Football Federation issued a statement denying Amini had been banned for playing without the hijab, claiming instead that she has not been an active player for years due to injuries.
“She has not been a member of the national team since 2009 and therefore the issue of not wearing the hijab on a private trip abroad was not a reason for her expulsion,” said the statement.
Amini insists her ouster is related to the hijab.
“I did everything I could through contacts and exchanges with the women’s division of the Football Federation and its security office so that I wouldn’t be eliminated because of the hijab,” she wrote on Instagram.
“When we became champions and won medals for the country, many supported us,” she added. “But now that they have thrown us out because of having no hijab or an inappropriate hijab, or when our headbands or hats fall off, will the people still support us?”
Amini said she made her Instagram page public in order to show her “real life.”
Iranian authorities have banned and penalized female athletes in the past for participating in international competitions without properly observing the Islamic Republic’s hijab laws.
Women are also not allowed to watch male athletes compete in sports arenas or compete in certain sports domestically or abroad.
On April 7, 2017, women were forced to run a segregated route in Tehran’s first international marathon.
On March 30, some Iranian female billiard players were banned for a year from domestic competitions for allegedly not properly observing the hijab while playing matches at an international billiard event in China.
In February 2017, 18-year-old female chess player, Dorsa Derakhshani, was dropped from Iran’s national team for not covering her hair during international chess games in Gibraltar.
Women athletes have also been penalized for allegedly exposing too much skin on social media.
Two female bodybuilders were summoned to court in September 2016 and banned from future sporting events for posting what officials described as “half-naked images” of themselves online.
“Publishing inappropriate photos (online) goes against the spirit of athleticism,” said Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi on January 6, 2016. “Athletes should avoid posting inappropriate photos online.”