Iran Women's Soccer Team Sidelined for Islamic Dress


Iran's women's soccer team may be sitting out the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore next month because of a dispute over their Islamic uniforms. The young athletes, all under 15, are at the center of a struggle over how to follow Iran's dress code and still compete in the international arena.

Last week the government unveiled the team's new outfits, a modest ensemble of pants, long sleeves, and high knee socks, with a cap that covers their hair. The outfits are designed in red, white and green to match the Iranian flag.

The top female official of Iran's physical education department was apparently offended by the uniforms, saying they were "inappropriate" and that the team would not compete in them. The uniforms had been a compromise; in 2007 FIFA, the organizing body of world soccer, had banned the old uniform because it included the hijab, or Islamic head scarf. The hejab violated FIFA safety regulations and a rule barring religious or political symbols on the field, Reuters reports.