Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Storm in a headscarf: FIFA was wrong to ban hijabs in soccer

Five years after ruling against the wearing of headscarves by female football players, the sport’s world governing body FIFA has taken initial steps to lift the hijab ban. In March 2012, the International…

Iranian soccer players cry after FIFA cancels their match due to the nature of their headware. EPA

Five years after ruling against the wearing of headscarves by female football players, the sport’s world governing body FIFA has taken initial steps to lift the hijab ban. In March 2012, the International Football Association Board (FIFA’s rule-making arm), voted unanimously to allow the testing of specially designed head coverings for the next four months.

While this is cause for celebration, the ban should never have been imposed in the first place. Ostensibly, it was about safety, with FIFA concerned that pins used to hold the scarves in place posed a hazard to the players. Not everyone accepted that safety was the reason for the ban, with some suggesting that it was part of a rising global tide of anti-Muslim sentiment.

As I explained to a colleague at ABC Radio Australia, my initial reaction to the ban was to wonder exactly how my pin-free headscarf posed a safety threat to me or anyone else, whether on a football field or in a swimming pool. How was it possible, I wondered, that FIFA didn’t know about the existence of headscarves specifically for sport?

If the custodians of the world game were truly concerned about whether the headscarves posed a safety hazard, all FIFA had to do was put the words “sports” and “hijab” into a search engine, or ask one of the thousands of women who play sports with a headscarf week in, week out.

The impact of the ban was particularly vicious for Iran’s national women’s team, who were left crying on a football pitch in the Jordanian capital Amman after a Bahraini FIFA official would not let them play in an Olympic qualifier against their hosts. Their punishment for refusing to take off their scarves in order to play in the match was the penalty of a win being recorded for their opponents, Jordan, and the crushing of their hopes of qualifying for the London Olympic Games this year. Three members of the Jordanian team were also affected, having to leave the ground because they too did not want to take off their headscarves.

Jordan plays Iran in 2005 before the hijab was banned. EPA/Jamal Nasrallah

Iran is a very curious case when it comes to women and sport. While women playing football is allowed, women watching it at a stadium is not, as explored by Jafar Panahi’s film Offside. (Panahi is currently serving a six year jail sentence for “creating propaganda against the Iranian republic” and has also been barred from film making for the next twenty years.)

When its women’s team was penalised in that match against Jordan last year, an Iranian official said the headscarf ban effectively meant the end of female participation in the sport, in Iran.

I was born in Jakarta – the crowded, sprawling metropolis of the world’s largest Muslim majority country. It’s a place where obsession with football crosses gender lines, where fans have an almost psychotic football rivalry with neighbouring Malaysia, and where – unbelievably – the 90,000-seat Gelora Bung Karno sells out for a match featuring the national youth team. To ban women from attending football matches in Indonesia would be unfathomable.

The different rights afforded a woman in Indonesia and Iran show the disparity in how Muslim majority countries treat women and sport. In Indonesia and most Muslim majority countries the headscarf is a personal choice. Iran is one of two Muslim majority countries which specifically legislate the clothing worn by women. The other is Saudi Arabia, where laws don’t permit women to either play or watch football, or indeed most sports).

On one hand, Iranian laws on women’s clothing and FIFA’s headscarf ban are both examples of how decisions made by men have had very real consequences for women.

But it was also men who lead the campaign to have the ban lifted, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Jordanian prince and FIFA vice president Ali bin Al Hussein argued that the ban amounted to prejudice, while English Premier League players voiced objections to the ban. They included Tottenham defender and captain of New Zealand’s national team Ryan Nelsen, who said the ban was the antithesis to encouraging the involvement of women in the game.

While it’s too late for Iran’s current national women’s team and the London 2012 Olympics, a final decision by the International Football Association Board on revoking the headscarf ban is expected in July.

With football the most popular team sport on earth, and the numbers of players and fans particularly prevalent in Muslim majority countries in Africa, the Middle East, south Asia and southeast Asia, lifting the ban would seem to be – as Nelsen describes – a no-brainer.

Political science professor Curtis Ryan says lifting the ban will “allow women to choose for themselves, rather than have FIFA choose for them”.

If FIFA truly wants to promote the “world game”, it’s time for them to stop alienating the female, Muslim part of that world.

Join the conversation

79 Comments sorted by

  1. Antonio Castillo

    Program Director, Journalism at RMIT University

    Dear Nasya,
    Don't expect too much from FIFA, one of the most conservative and reactionary international organizations. But I'm glad the ban was lifted
    Congratulations for a very fine piece
    Antonio Castillo - a mad football player (the real football)

    report
  2. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

    Contrarian / Epistemologist

    It's bewildering / absurd that a piece of cloth applied to the head is so significant. The position of woman in societies where Islam is the dominant organizing principles is often defined by wretchedness. Allowing them to play football wearing a scarf seems a sadly empty marker of progress. I am minded of the news this week of the teenage girl in Morocco who suicided after being forced to marry the man who raped her and the coverage of the same phenomenon in Afghanistan. I doubt the advent of hijab clad female footballers will lift the spirit of these women. Perhaps the opposite, international acceptance of gender apartheid conventions may reduce pressures in such societies to grant woman the most basic human rights. Let them eat football....

    report
    1. Tim Paton

      Automotive Engineer

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      You are allowed to play football while wearing a piece of cloth applied to your lower abdomen. Nobody is demanding that you leave the field if you are not willing to remove your pants.
      Is it so absurd that Muslim women be allowed to wear "a piece of cloth" to maintain their dignity, given that you are allowed to wear your own piece of cloth to maintain yours?
      This is not a question of whether or not the headscarf - or any culturally significant clothing - is absurd, or whether Muslim women are…

      Read more
    2. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      The problem is no one is holding up Iran permitting headscarved women to play football as a marker of progress. It's simply that in Iran women with headscarves are permitted to play the sport, and FIFA came along and said "no they aren't". I'm not sure what the relevance of the Moroccan teen is to this discussion, but I'm also not sure that mistreating rape victims is a problem common to Muslim countries (eg http://www.smh.com.au/world/shock-justice-rape-victim-jailed-but-fails-to-win-appeal-20120314-1v076.html) Agree with Tim's comment that this particular discussion is about whether the governing body of a sport has been reasonable in making allowances for the players' cultural needs.

      report
    3. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Ironically the website is called the Conversation. Not entirely sure that you can put a piece up then determine that the permissible direction of discussion is solely to be determined by you. An inherent danger of freedom of speech is that people may exercise it.....

      report
    4. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Nice try, but that's what is known as a straw man argument. No one is shutting down your opinion (and I note the website doesn't moderate comments). You're perfectly entitled to claim that the death of protesters in post election violence a couple of years ago is relevant to football's governing body lifting a headscarf ban, BUT other people are entitled to disagree with you.

      report
    5. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Women can develop their own sport.

      Men have developed every sport I am aware of, but I know of no law stopping women from developing their own sport, in Australia anyway.

      report
    6. Megan Clement

      Deputy Editor, Politics + Society at The Conversation

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Hi Nasya,

      The editors do moderate the comments at The Conversation, and remove any comments that violate our terms and conditions.

      Best wishes,
      Megan

      report
  3. Michael Shand
    Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Software Tester

    Totally agree with the above comments from Stiofán Mac Suibhne, the soccer world cup is the biggest event in the world bar none. More people tune in and more people follow the games than any other event, how would banning people from taking part help the women who are really suffering?

    Also, I'm pretty sure that when playing international cricket you can where a turbin so why not a headscarf in soccer? Why not a burqa in soccer?

    This sort of rule restricts people from participating and being involved with the rest of the world and isolating them in that way can only be harmful

    report
  4. Mat Hardy

    Lecturer in Middle East Studies at Deakin University

    I for one am shocked to hear that FIFA might have made dubious decisions based upon its own self-interest and the world views of a bunch of ageing male dinosaurs.

    report
    1. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      Hi Mat,

      am all for women being able to play and especially if a headscarf allows women to enjoy some sport in life.. Women in islam certainly have enough issues to deal with.. as the pointed out above.. for example: a head scarf still does not mean women can go to a stadium and watch a game in iran.. from what i understand there are passages in the Quran which assert that women are of dimished capacity and that two females are required to one male witness. used in sharia law.

      As for the soccer, here in australia we had to remove the nationality brand from teams which inturn stopped the violence that surrounded the games.. Surely removing the religious brand from a soccer game will prevent similiar types of of field tension which has nothing to do with the game of soccer?

      report
    2. Matthew Hall

      Journalist, Student

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      The hijab ban, as with all the laws of football, is actually at the behest of the International Football Association Board. This is comprised of representatives from the associations of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland PLUS four representatives of FIFA. Any change to the laws must receive six of eight votes at the IFAB's annual meeting.

      As far as Australia is concerned, the removal of ethnocentric names from teams in the national competition was not to curtail "violence that surrounded the game". It was a (failed) marketing exercise by the league's administrators to broaden the appeal of the clubs. Clashes between spectators still occasionally occurred at games as many of the clubs represented ethnic communities with long histories of conflict. Bored teenagers used those platforms to fight each other, as bored teenagers often do.

      report
    3. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      Such viciousness towards a group of men by an academic, and such a narrow view, literally.

      Men playing soccer are not allowed to wear any head gear either, because soccer is the only sport where someone is allowed to hit the ball with their head, as in “heading the ball”.

      If someone is wearing something on their head, they could gain an advantage over someone not wearing something on their head when heading the ball.

      There is also a safety risk involved. If someone is wearing pins in a head scarf, or wearing pins in their hair under the scarf, they will be at risk when heading the ball.

      report
    4. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      Also, thinking about it further, as well as the short-sighted narrow view about wearing any type of head gear when playing soccer, objection to the words “ageing male dinosaurs”.

      Straightforward age discrimination.

      I really don’t know what type of induction university academics get, or whether they are ever informed about discrimination based on age, but there is such as thing as discrimination based on age.

      Maybe university academics in Australia are allowed to say whatever they want, as long as it is discriminatory of the male gender.

      report
    5. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      And it does definitely look as though a woman soccer player in the top photo is wearing some type of padding under her scarf that would give her a definite advantage when heading the ball.

      How did a university academic miss that.

      report
    6. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      And it does definitely look as though a woman soccer player in the top photo is wearing some type of padding under her scarf that would give her a definite advantage when heading the ball.

      How did a university academic miss that.

      report
    7. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      And it does definitely look as though a woman soccer player in the top photo is wearing some type of padding under her scarf that would give her a definite advantage when heading the ball.

      How did a university academic miss that.

      report
    8. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      Sorry, look at photo "Jordan plays Iran in 2005 before the hijab was banned."

      A piece of padding is under the scarf directly where the player is likely to head the ball, giving that player an advantage.

      report
    9. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      You are quite right. Ageism is the final frontier of prejudice. I thought we had been transported back to the 80s and the era where all evil was the result of the male, pale and stale! And mocking / denigrating men, especially of the OLD DINOSAURS variety, is well de rigueur if you are also trying to establish your feminist / post-colonial credentials.

      report
    10. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Yes I am correct regards the age discrimination shown by the university academic.

      And it is not correct for a soccer player to be wearing padding under their head scarf that gives them an advantage when heading the ball, as clearly seen in the photo "Jordan plays Iran in 2005 before the hijab was banned."

      report
    11. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Er, no you aren't correct. He (Matt Hardy) was making a tongue in cheek comment and being sarcastic, directed at FIFA, not men nor old people. Perhaps it was lost in translation. His remark was repeating what others have stated - that FIFA is a very conservative organisation.

      Re your comment below regarding men not being allowed to play with any headgear - that's also incorrect. What do you call this? http://goalkeepermagazine.com/goalkeeper-news/petr-cech-torres-will-bounce-back-from-epic-fail-at-old-trafford/

      As for your comment re safety pins, I suggest actually reading the article - particulary paragraphs 2, 3 and 4. Also note that the lifting of the ban (which was always supposedly about safety - FIFA's rule making arm was not concerned with whether the headscarves gave competitive advantages to players in headers) is dependent on the design of a new headscarf by (among others) a Dutch woman (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17548568) that don't use pins.

      report
    12. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen
      I don’t think the lecturer was making a tongue in check comment. I have heard just about every bigoted, maligning, discriminatory remark possible made about the male gender by university academics, and they must think they are at complete liberty to do so.

      I also object to your use of the term “bollocks”.

      What is it with you university academics?

      As for a goal keeper wearing head gear, I don’t think they are allowed to head the ball. They can catch and kick the ball, and that…

      Read more
    13. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Well, you thought wrong. His comment was an ironic one explicitly directed at FIFA, and for you to claim that it's directed at all men is 100% incorrect.

      You can object to "bollocks" all you want, but there isn't anything you can do to stop its use. The word is an accepted form of everyday language in Australia (which is where this site is based).

      Goalies are allowed to head. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/football/spl/2009/12/11/goalkeeper-s-header-costs-scottish-clubs-a-champions-league-spot-86908-21888589

      Read more
    14. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "If the few women want to wear scarfs when playing sport, they can always go and form their own sport"

      As an aside, that is an EXTREME logic fail. Your factual error about "few women" aside (there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, half of them are women), the issue is women wanting to wear headscarves while playing an existing sport, not just any sport. So far, not one single reasonable and logical reason has been put forward, to support the banning of headscarves in this existing sport.

      report
    15. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen
      If you meant the word “nonsense”, then say the word “nonsense” instead of “bollocks”, so there is no confusion with the word “testicles”.

      No one is making these women play soccer, and they can always form their own competition or invent their own sport. Every sport I can think of has been invented and developed by men, and so often women come into a sport and then say it is dominated by men.

      If head scarfs in soccer is a safety issue, then I have had quite a lot to do with safety…

      Read more
    16. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen
      In a feminist world, an area that women have improved the most would definitely be whinging.

      Soccer is a body contact sport, and if the women don’t like having to remove their scarf so the umpire can check that no sharp objects are in their hair such as pins, then these women should go and form their own sport.

      report
    17. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "If you meant the word “nonsense”, then say the word “nonsense” instead of “bollocks”, so there is no confusion with the word “testicles”."

      - If you read the definition you yourself supplied

      "If head scarfs in soccer is a safety issue, then I have had quite a lot to do with safety, and I would be in complete agreement with FIFA."
      Then you clearly didn't read the article - particularly the paragraphs about why FIFA's objection on the basis of safety were wrong. Try reading the article before commenting. Seems like you mistook one (male) academic's comment to be ageist, and went on a rant about how the university system in Australia is anti-men. You've provided no proof, by the way, to support that claim other than one man's comments which you completely misunderstood.

      report
    18. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "If you meant the word “nonsense”, then say the word “nonsense” instead of “bollocks”, so there is no confusion with the word “testicles”."

      If you read the definition you yourself supplied from Wikipedia, then you'd see there was no confusion, because no one uses the word bollocks as a synonym for testicles. 'The word is often used figuratively in British English and Hiberno-English, as a noun to mean "nonsense" '

      There is however a difference between etymology (history of a word) and how it's understood or used. You're incorrectly claiming a historical origin for the word is the way it's used or understood in the present day. If you think that "bollocks" is a synonym or a word that's ever confused for "testicle", please provide proof (something you have never done for any of your claims).

      report
    19. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      In an ideal world, people who don't understand logic (like you) would at least try to read the article first before commenting. Clearly you haven't - if you had read the article you'd understand that it's a referee, not an umpire (wrong sport) who officiates games, and it is a FIFA official, not the referee, who makes decisions based on the rules of the game. If you had read the article, you would have known that the scarves have no safety pins. But you clearly didn't read the article.

      report
    20. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      By the way it's a referee, not an umpire, and the referee is there to monitor the rules of the game. Decisions on attire in the case described in the article were made by FIFA officials, not the referee (which you would have known, if you had read the article).

      report
    21. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      You said men aren't allowed to wear headgear while playing football. You were wrong. You say you're in complete agreement with FIFA. Well, they're lifting the ban because there are no safety issues.

      Better luck next time.

      report
    22. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen
      No thank you for your personal insults. Do you also insult students who disagree with you?

      Perhaps you should read risk management legislation and become aware of safety laws. Officials at sporting functions in many countries are required to carry out safety risk assessments before competition can begin. If a serious injury or fatality occurs to a player on the field, officials (including an umpire/referee) can be legally liable.

      Within risk management legislation, all possible…

      Read more
    23. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen,
      You could nominate the university academic from any university in this country who has said one positive thing about the male gender.

      As for their inductions, I believe they are being given the most minimal inductions, or no inductions at all. I have been through many inductions, (including worksite inductions up to 3 days duration) and if the inductions were being properly run, the staff would be told very clearly that comments such as “aging male dinosaurs” are discriminatory and unacceptable.

      report
    24. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      You've already hung yourself by showing that you didn't read the article and didn't understand it. That isn't an insult - that's a fact.

      report
    25. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "You could nominate the university academic from any university in this country who has said one positive thing about the male gender"

      It doesn't work like that. You made a claim - the onus is on you to prove it, not on other people to prove that the opposite is true. Even by the low standards you've set yourself on this website, that's a pretty poor attempt at trolling.

      report
    26. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen
      I would regard the word "trolling" as just more insults. I have looked, and I cannot find any academic in any university in this country who has ever made one positive comment about the male gender. It appears that it is a part of the culture of universities to depict men as some type of evil, and depict them as forever oppressing women.

      Your article is another piece of literature written to depict men in that way. You may receive some type of reward for it in a university, but outside a university it is different.

      Read carefully risk management legislation, and note that it applies to sporting events also. FIFA were correctly not allowing head scarfs to be worn, if no officials were allowed to inspect those head scarfs or see what was in the hair of the person wearing the head scarf.

      report
    27. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen
      I can see you have no concern or interest in risk management legislation.

      report
    28. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      I work both inside and outside a university, Dale, so your attempt to insult me by thinking that I'm ignorant of what goes on outside academia is a failure.

      "Your article is another piece of literature written to depict men in that way."
      Actually, the article applauds men. Did you not read it? If you did read it, why are you lying about its content? If you did not read it, then you are commenting without the facts, just to go on a rant (ie. you are trolling).

      "I have looked, and I cannot…

      Read more
    29. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      If you can find evidence linking risk management legislation with FIFA's ban, feel free to show us.

      report
    30. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen
      I would in no way apologise to any university academic in this country, after so many vilifying comments have been made by university academics about the male gender, and few or no university academics have ever opposed it.

      I do know that if such comments were made in certain other worksites, the person making those comments would be very quickly shown the gate, and told to find other employment.

      Again, read carefully risk management legislation. FIFA were correctly carrying out risk management legislation by not allowing head scarfs to be worn if no official could inspect the head scarfs or inspect the hair of the person wearing the head scarfs.

      If women soccer players want to wear head scarfs and not allow anyone to inspect their hair for possible sharp objects, the women should go and form their own competition, where they did not have to abide by risk management legislation.

      report
    31. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "Again, read carefully risk management legislation"

      Again, provide some proof. For anything you've claimed. It's not that hard Dale. Show us where your information comes from linking risk management legislation with FIFA's decision. Show us evidence (not your own personal anecdotes) that there is an anti-male bias in universities in Australia.

      report
    32. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Matthew Hall

      Mathew,

      are you kidding? Bored individual? who all happened to be of the same nationality that was in conflict with another.. The soccer matches were used as a venue to congregate and assault the other nationality who happened to be playing each other..

      The team names were changed to stop the violence and improve the image of the game soccer.. The game image is one thing which may or may not have improved but the violence has certainly stopped.
      The fact is the head scarf is used to identify people as belonging to islam which is political movement that certainly seem to attract violence.. Religion, sports and politics should remain separate. surely

      report
    33. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Dale

      i suggest the article has more about promoting islam than it has anything to do with safety, women’s rights and especially soccer.

      at present women in Islam have no rights and they must wear their uniform ie head scarf.. If they can not wear the uniform then they cannot play. As the article confirms

      report
    34. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen
      If you think the issue is safety, then the issue is risk management legislation, which governs all safety issues in this country, and has done for many years.

      You will find sporting clubs that require players to sign forms saying that officials at the clubs will not be held responsible if the player is injured. Those forms are unlikely to hold up in court, as risk management legislation overrides all other legislation, and overrides all private agreements. FIFA would be well aware…

      Read more
    35. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      That isn't proof Dale. Repeating your unsubstantiated opinion again and again and again doesn't make it true. Surely it isn't that hard to provide a link - something, anything - to support your statements. But you can't even tell us where you are getting your information from? Riiiiiiggghhht.

      report
    36. Matthew Hall

      Journalist, Student

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      No, Joseph. I am not kidding. The bored individuals WERE all of the same "nationality". They were Australia and using ethnic origins and soccer matches as a platform to fight among themselves. Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Greeks. I know this because I asked a lot of them.

      The team names were not changed to stop the violence and the violence has not certainly stopped although it has not reached the fever pitch levels of the 1990s in quite some time.

      The current NSW Premier League includes Bonnyrigg White Eagles (about as Serbian as you can get), Sydney "Olympic", and Sydney United 58, formerly Sydney Croatia, which did forcibly change its name when it was a a participant in the National Soccer League (Sydney Olympic did not).

      Religion, sports, and politics should remain separate but only for idealists. Organised sport is one of the most political spheres there is.

      report
    37. Matthew Hall

      Journalist, Student

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Under the laws of football, any part of a goalkeeper's body may touch the ball. This includes the head.

      In reference to the player in the top photo wearing some type of padding under her scarf, this possible padding is located on the TOP of the head and therefore would provide no advantage at all. Correct and advantageous football technique requires any contact with the ball to be with the forehead.

      In the event the player did have some kind of padding or extra equipment, it would have to be cleared by the match referee at the time. It's not hard to do and at elite levels (which an international match most certainly is), players are checked by match officials for any errant equipment (including rings, jewelry, boot studs, etc).

      It should not be a concern or distraction.

      report
    38. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen
      I don’t think you know what you are talking about, and you saw the FIFA issue as an opportunity to denigrate men and attempt to portray men as oppressing women, this time Muslim women. You may get rewards for that inside a university, but outside it is different.

      If you think sporting organisations are not governed by risk management legislation, then they definitely are in countries such as Australia, and in most European countries at least, where a lot of soccer is played.

      If you think an Australian university academic has ever written anything positive about the male gender, then you can link to that, because at present all that can be found is nothing but denigrating, vilifying, bigoted and narrow minded remarks being made about the male gender. And the remark “aging old dinosaurs” is just a small example of a much larger set.

      report
    39. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      On the contrary, Dale, everything you've said (about the article denigrating men, about the comment made by Mat Hardy referring to FIFA, about the reasons for FIFA's ban, about the link between FIFA's ban and risk legislation, about men wearing headgear) - every single thing you've said has been proven wrong - which would show that you have no idea what you are talking about. You make sweeping claims and fail to back them up with even one iota of evidence.

      So once again, put up or shut up. You have difficulty understanding basic English, so I'll explain once again that when you make a claim, the onus is on YOU to prove that claim, NOT on other people to prove the opposite. That isn't a hard notion to grasp, but you fail to understand it.

      Either support your posts with proof or admit that you have no evidence and are merely stating your unsubstantiated opinion.

      report
    40. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "If you think an Australian university academic has ever written anything positive about the male gender, then you can link to that"

      Once again, I'm under no obligation to - because I am not the one making such claims. You've claimed that the entire uni sector is anti-men. Putting aside the fact that this has no relevance whatsoever to the article and is your feeble attempt at responding to someone else's comment you failed to grasp - the responsibility is on you to prove your claim. Where is your evidence (and personal anecdotes don't count)?

      report
    41. In reply to Dale Bloom

      Comment removed by moderator.

    42. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Dear Nasya,

      Risk management or "Duty of Care", in this country overides commercial law and carries, in this country, criminal charges.. Ignorance is not an excuse in the eyes of the Law..

      If you wish a link then i can go to the trouble of find it.. So please give the man some credit on this point..

      report
    43. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "There is also no readily discernible evidence of a university academic in this country ever writing something positive about the male gender. If there is such a university academic in this country, their literature must be well hidden."

      This is what's called a personal anecdote - and for the umpteenth time, a personal anecdote doesn't do a thing to prove your claim that universities in Australia have an anti-male bias.

      report
    44. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Sorry, Joseph, but it's Dale making a claim (that FIFA overseas were making a decision based on risk management legislation in Australia) so the onus is on Dale, not anyone else, to provide proof for that claim. If you look at other articles here on this website, Dale has repeatedly alleged that universities in Australia have an anti-male bias but has never once provided one shred of evidence to support that. Again, the onus is on Dale to provide evidence - not you or anyone else.

      report
    45. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen,
      Regards university academics, I have read just about every maligning, discriminatory, vilifying, prejudiced and bigoted comment made about the male gender by university academics, but I have never once read one positive comment about the male gender by a university academic.

      I think you may be starting to understand risk management legislation. In my local area, a worker is presently litigating a worksite foreman for a figure approaching $1 million for an accident that occurred at a worksite.

      Similar can also occur at sports events.

      If I was an umpire for a soccer match, and a player came onto the field and I couldn’t see if they had objects in their hair, or they were wearing earrings, or had a chain around their neck, I simply would not allow them to play. They can go and form their own competition and find their own umpires.

      report
    46. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "Regards university academics, I have read just about every maligning, discriminatory, vilifying, prejudiced and bigoted comment made about the male gender by university academics"

      That still isn't evidence. It's a claim, made by you.

      report
    47. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen
      You want evidence of the denigrating, bigoted, misinformed and vilifying remarks made about the male gender by university academics?

      Here is something I have previously mentioned elsewhere on this website, written about the male gender.

      “freaks of nature, fragile, fantastic, bizarre", as idiots savants, "full of queer obsessions about fetishistic activities and arbitrary goals, doomed to competition and injustice not merely towards females, but towards children, animals and other…

      Read more
    48. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "You want evidence of the denigrating, bigoted, misinformed and vilifying remarks made about the male gender by university academics?"

      Academics = plural. You've cited ONE (retired) academic, who has been roundly criticised. Eg http://www.themonthly.com.au/germaine-greer-and-female-eunuch-better-self-louis-nowra-2298 (by an author with an honorary doctorate from Griffith University); or http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/02/george-bernard-shaw-feminism-prostitution (by an emeritus professor).

      You need to show something that demonstrates that there is (as you claim) a systematic bias by all academics, not just one individual who you wrongly say has never been opposed by an academic, and who you assume to be representative of every academic.

      report
    49. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Regarding risk management - I'm sorry to say the ban has been lifted, because officials realised they were wrong and there is no safety risk.

      Your comments about Germaine Greer are completely irrelevant, Dale - you claimed (wrongly, again) that she was your proof that there is an inherent male bias in universities. She is one (retired) academic who has been criticised by other academics (you claimed, again, wrongly, that no academic had criticised her). Wrong on so many counts, but keep trying.

      If you don't like this one retired academic, you can always invent your own university.

      report
    50. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya Bahfen
      I just used Greer as an example. There appears to be hundreds of other apprentices within the education system attempting to copy what she did.

      FIFA will probably rue the day it lifted the ban. A player can now walk onto the field wearing basically anything they want, and if they are injured or injure someone else, the officials running the competition can be charged or litigated against.

      report
    51. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      You claimed there was a systemic bias against men in the education sector and further claimed that it went uncriticised and unchecked, but did not prove that claim. Your sole evidence is of a retired academic who has been criticised by other academics. Be careful what you say, as without proof the things you say could be taken as defamatory.

      "A player can now walk onto the field wearing basically anything they want"
      The ban is about things being worn on their heads (which male professional footballers were allowed to do anyway with absolutely no concern over safety). It was thought wrongly that there was a safety issue involved, but there wasn't. Your whingeing about it doesn't change that.

      report
  5. A Lamb

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Wow. I am quite shocked by these comments. Well done Nasya for a very well written piece. Regardless of who thinks what about the headscarf and the treatment of women in the Muslim world (and no where is it perfect) this is the simple issue about participation and discrimination against a group of people who have already been discriminated against enough.

    report
    1. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to A Lamb

      Nothing is ever 'simple'. Remember that in Iran Islamic gender apartheid is real and it kills. Let's us not forget the terrible death of that young woman Neda.

      report
    2. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      thanks Alex, clearly you are not making the mistake of conflating a political issue with a sporting one, nor assuming that this is an either/or situation (the false dichotomy of either you are concerned about this issue or concerned about another without acknowledging that you can be concerned about both. Neda's death was not unique to her gender, it was part of a crackdown on dissent, and happened to be captured on a mobile phone. invoking her death to argue that the world must enforce a no-hijab rule in football infantilizes the cause she died for, patronizes those of us who are able to deal with more than one concern at once, and does her memory (and those of dozens of men and women who died after those elections) a great disservice.

      report
    3. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      I would think that your disconnected thinking is the greater disservice to the memories of those killed for their dissent. An Islamofascist state that enforces strict fashion codes on women, indeed allocates this role to its police force / courts to do so, also bans woman from watching sport or participating in sport in many circumnstances. It's one and the same social system that Neda was rejecting and was killed for. The hijab is an element of that system of control, not clear that any of the comments are arguing for a no hijab rule per se. It's the subjugation of women that is surely the greater concern. In the Iranian context it is naive to see the rights of woman in sport as a 'sporting' issue and somehow non-political. Everything is political. There is no dichotomy, but interrelatedness.

      report
    4. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      "I would think that your disconnected thinking is the greater disservice to the memories of those killed for their dissent."
      Ironically, this is the whole point, made by an earlier commenter, which you have utterly failed to grasp - this is not about the Iranian government killing people (men and women, and not just Neda) after its rigged elections. Iran did not have a problem with women playing in headscarves - FIFA did. The ban was not restricted to Iran, so your attempt to restrict the discussion to the Iranian context is a red herring. Drawing a connection with FIFA's ban and Neda's death is insulting, illogical and ridiculous.

      report
    5. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      With respect, I would suggest it is you not I that is being 'illogical' in your attempt to restrict the discourse to the head scarves and quarantine it from the social system that creates the problem of woman-forced-to-wear-head-scarves-to-play-football. The link between the compulsion for Iranian woman to wear the hijab and the death of Neda and her cohort is Islam as it is imposed on the Iranian people. Football is just football, a relatively trivial matter. I would have thought that you might able to offer some more considered response that just dismissing contrary opinions as 'insulting, illogical and ridiculous'. Easy way to close down discussion is to switch to polemic and name your partners as idiots.

      report
    6. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      See response below - no one is claiming that the discussion be restricted. If you have the right to claim that political deaths several years ago in Iran have something to do with football (which IS the topic of the article, remember) then sorry but I (and the others who have disagreed with you that your views on female subjugation are not relevant to the discussion) also have the right to say those claims are bollocks.

      report
    7. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Oops. One might have expected a more learned response. Obviously you are more comfortable in the intellectual shallows. Prob best you stay there.

      report
    8. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      The problem is your inability to accept that while FIFA can be accused of many things, failing to sufficiently champion the political rights of Iranians is not one of them. Supporting the rights of subjugated women in the middle east is not within FIFA's purview, nor should it be. This is why I said earlier (and reiterate) that drawing a connection with FIFA's ban and Neda's death is insulting (to Neda's memory), illogical and ridiculous. In your refusal to understand this point, you claim that you…

      Read more
    9. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      And another objection, which is objection to the term "bollocks"

      "Bollocks" /ˈbɒləks/ is a word of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning "testicles".

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bollocks

      Perhaps if women want to wear a head scarf when playing sport, different to every other player, and then start using something under that head scarf that gives them an advantage over every other player, then they can go and form their own sport.

      Or do men have to invent that sport for them?

      report
    10. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Oh, I see - you're claiming that people can only use something if they happen to be of the same gender as the person who invented it. Well, that's very smart. The windshield wiper, liquid paper or white-out, vacum packed bags, Kevlar (the material used in protective gear for motorcycle riders), Scotchguard and grocery bags were all invented by women. Based on your logic, men should form their own versions of those things and refrain from using them because women were the ones who invented them…

      Read more
    11. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      No, I don't claim in general to be more learned than the people that I disagree with. I have disagreed with some very clever people, you would probably not be one of them. If you can not see the relationship between the social system that forces women in Iran to wear a cloth on their heads to play football and the systemic failings of that society, then I would suggest you are being wilfully stupid. You do refer to the legal compulsion in Iran for woman to cover their heads but then what? No more consideration given and stick to footy talk. The system that gives rise to the problem is of greater interest than sporting trivia, that uniform norms have been altered to accommodate the imposed dress code. Perhaps you need to reflect, not react so.

      report
    12. Nasya Bahfen

      Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Media Centre at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      If you can not see the relationship between the social system that forces women in Iran to wear a cloth on their heads to play football and the systemic failings of that society, then I would suggest you are being wilfully stupid.

      Of course you'd call me stupid, because personal insults are the last bastion of those who have been proven wrong. You're trying to make a connection where there is none, and then ploughing ahead out of stubbornness despite being shown to be proven incorrect (and contradictory…

      Read more
    13. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Nasya Bahfen

      Nasya, I would support a fund that pays you to retort to any comment Dale makes on The Conversation. Win.

      report
  6. Shaiful Alam

    Training and Development, Photographer

    It's a very good to show FIFA what they are doing. If anyone say those comments are harsh I would say banning hijab and separating a community from a society is very bad. Reason for this comment is Page 65 Lows of Games says;
    Modern protective equipment such as headgear, facemasks and knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight padded material are not considered dangerous and are therefore permitted.

    Hijab is headgear, facemask and lightweight padded material therefore should be permitted.

    report