By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

August 10 - FIFA President Sepp Blatter is attend the opening match of the football tournament of the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, which will feature the Iranian girls team, whose participation had been in doubt over a row over what they could wear.

Blatter, together with Football Association of Singapore (FAS) President Zainudin Nordin, will jointly declare the competition open on Thursday (August 12) and then watch Iran's match against Turkey.

The Youth Olympics are not due to officially open until Saturday (August 14) but, as in the main Olympics, the football tournament will start two days before.

The participation of the Iranian team caused worldwide controversy earlier this year when FIFA were accused of racism and religious discrimination after the world governing body ruled that they could not play in headwear during the tournament because it broke the laws of the game.

Iran withdrew from the event but, following talks involving Ali Kaffashian, the President of Iran's Football Federation (IFF), a compromise was reached which means a new set of clothing that will still cover the players heads in accordance with Islamic custom but will not break the laws of the game.

But, even as recently as last month, there were still fears that Iran would not take part when several officials there objected to the new kit, which features 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.

But the team have been allowed to travel and have arrived in Singapore.

The team's coach Shahrzad Mozafar insisted after a training session earlier today that the row had been put behind them.

She said: "FIFA told us to modify our headgear and we have done so.

"We are now in agreement over the matter.

"It [the kit] is not very different from what they are used to wearing."

FIFA have nominated small countries like Haiti and Vanuatu for the boys' tournament and Papua New Guinea and Equatorial Guinea for the girls' event to take part in the Youth Olympics to help the development of the sport in these countries.

Particular emphasis is being placed on the girls event in Singapore.

Blatter said: "Women’s football is now being played in all different cultures.

"Even in Iran, whose under-15 team are taking part in the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

"This is how it should be, since women have the right to play.

"In handball, basketball and volleyball, if you’re not big then you don’t stand a chance, but anyone can play football, since kicking a ball is an instinctive thing.

"What we want is for women’s football to be recognised everywhere."

Blatter is also due to attend the opening match of the boys tournament at the Youth Olympics which will feature the hosts Singapore against Zimbabwe on Friday (August 13). 

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
May 2010:
 Exclusive - FIFA lift Olympic dress ban on Iranian women's team
April 2010: Blatter set to face tough questions in Iran after hijab ban
April 2010: Exclusive - Iran replaced by Thailand over Olympic hijab row
April 2010: Iran angry after women's football team banned from wearing hijab at Youth Olympics