Pakistan official lashes out at skirt rule

By Umar Farooq

New badminton ruling irks Pakistan.
Badminton Asia Confederation Vice-President Syed Naqi Mohsin lashed out at the sport’s governing body for introducing the rule forcing female players to wear skirts.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF), in a bid to raise the profile of women and the sport, has decided to make the skirt-rule compulsory for all female players from June 1.
However, the decision met with criticism from Muslim countries and Mohsin said that the rule is discriminatory.
“The BWF states that the new regulation will not discriminate against any religion or beliefs,” said Mohsin. “How can wearing skirts not clash with the religious beliefs of female Muslim players?”
The BWF, however, has defended its decision and said that female players can wear shorts ‘if they wish’ but also ‘wear a skirt over the shorts as is practiced already by some players’.
Mohsin, a Pakistan member in the Asian body, said that players have been wearing trousers for some time and that attire was approved.
“Pakistan players have been playing in international tournaments in trousers,” said Mohsin. “They even participated in the Asian Games in the same attire as they were exempted keeping in view their religion. The Iranians used to play in trousers with a head scarf as well and there was no issue then.
“We’ve not been sending our female players to big tournaments like the Super Series and the Grand Prix but they did participate in the Uber Cup, where this new dress regulation will apply now.”
He added that though some players might be willing to wear skirts, the rule should not be made compulsory since it clashes with religious beliefs of some players.  “I’m sure a lot of players will willingly adapt the new rule.  But quite a lot will not be comfortable so it should not be made compulsory.”
The BWF last month suspended the Pakistan’s Badminton Federation (PBF) over the controversy of parallel bodies running in the country. The world body demanded an election be held before Pakistan could become a member again and is therefore in no position to take up the matter of the new rule just yet. However, the Punjab Badminton Secretary Tayyab Sohail said the matter would be discussed as soon as Pakistan regains its status.
“We currently have no federation to represent us but within the next month, Pakistan will become a member and take up the matter,” said Sohail.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2011.