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Iran protests hijab ban for soccer team

April 6, 2010 at 9:14 PM

ZURICH, Switzerland, April 6 (UPI) -- Iran has asked the international bodies governing soccer and the Olympics to end a ban on the wearing of Islamic headscarves by female players.

The Federation Internationale de Football Association, based in Zurich, said Monday the Thai women's soccer team would replace the Iranian team at the Youth Olympics in August, The Daily Telegraph reported. The Iranian team was banned because its players wear headscarves or hijabs during games.

In a letter to FIFA and the International Olympic Committee, Bahram Arsharzadeh, secretary-general of the Iranian Olympic Committee, said the rule effectively bars Iranian women from international sport. Many Muslims believe women, once they reach puberty, should not go out in public with uncovered heads.

"We have asked the heads of these international sports organizations to review and annul FIFA's decision," Afsharzadeh said. "Hijab is related to the Islamic culture and Muslim women can't take part in social activities without it."

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