Playing soccer (football) with head scarves can cause choking, so FIFA disqualifies Iran’s women

Soccer, aka futbol, aka futebol, aka football, is also known as the beautiful game. It’s the closest thing there is to a universal sport, played in over 200 countries. It’s championship game, the World Cup final, player every four years, draws a television audience of over one billion, according to FIFA, the international governing body.

FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) rules soccer internationally. And corruptly: its board is rife with bribery, which is apparently why it awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, where summer temperatures reach over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

And it rules arbitrarily, inconsistently, and ugly, as when last week it disqualified the Iran women’s team for wearing head scarves to their match with Jordan. Why? Because head scarves were dangerous. Don’t you know, they’re a choking hazard. As a result Iran won’t have a chance to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.

The issue has come up before, and FIFA reversed an earlier ruling against head scarves and allowed Iran to compete in last year’s junior games in Singapore. The Iranian team showed up for last week’s match with Jordan in the expectation that what was acceptable last year would be acceptable this year. But not to FIFA.

One reason soccer is universal is that it can be played anywhere, in a stadium with an official ball or in the African bush with a ball made of knotted rags. And there’s no expensive equipment—even shoes are optional.

What reason on earth can there be for refusing to allow young women to play with head scarves? The official explanation is obviously a lie. One more reason for soccer teams and leagues to abandon FIFA.

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