By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
April 5 - FIFA have refused to back down in the row over Iran women's football team being banned from wearing the hijab at the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore later this year and have announced that Thailand will replace them in the tournament.
The Iran Olympic Committee and Iran Football Federation (IFF) have sent letters of complaints to several organisations, including FIFA and the International Olympic Committee, complaining about the decision not to let the team wear the hijab at the Games in Singapore, which open on August 14.
Women in Iran are obliged to respect the hijab - Islamic dress code - and wear a long gown and scarf to conceal body contours and hair in public.
Iranian sportswomen including the football team have to keep the hijab in international competition, too.
But this doest not adhere to law 4 of football's governing rules and FIFA have now written to Iran to tell them that their place in Singapore will be taken by Thailand.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke wrote: "Taking into consideration the clear position stated by the NOC (National Olympic Committee) of Iran, the FIFA Executive Committee had no choice but to take the decision that the Iran Football Federation will not be able to participate in the inaugural Youth Olympic Football Tournaments in Singapore."
Iran's National Olympic Committee secretary general Bahram Afsharzadeh still hopes to get the decision reversed.
He said: "The letters have been sent to heads of FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
"We have asked the heads of these international sports organisations to review and annul FIFA's decision.
"Hijab is related to the Islamic culture and Muslim women can't take part in social activities without it."
Faride Shojaee, the vice-president of the women’s department of the IFF, claimed that FIFA officials had previously allowed Iranian athletes to participate with their Islamic hijab "before denying them the right to do so in the letter they sent on Monday."
Shojaee said she would try to resolve the problem with FIFA officials at the organisation’s headquarters in Zurich next week.
She said: "FIFA officials have mistaken the religious hijab for national dress, claiming that if they were allowed to participate with Islamic hijab, other participants might also demand to appear in their respective traditional costumes."
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April 2010: Iran angry after women's football team banned from wearing hijab at Youth Olympics