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The heavy criticism that Brazil is receiving about the preparations for the World Cup, is not uncommon to the tournament that takes place every four years. There was 9
concern about whether South Africa would benefit from hosting the games in 2012; the 2006 World Cup in Germany had problems of crime and sex trafficking. Political problems seem to be inevitable when it comes to the largest and most anticipated soccerevent in the world. Religion, Race and Gender Politics in SportsSince the inception of sports there has always been a level of inequality that exists. Whether it is race related with African Americans in the United States, gender related with women, or religion related, inequality is everywhere. This political topic crosses over into sports whether we want it to or not. There are countless examples of different types of inequality present in athletic events around the world and remains a problem today. One of the most interesting examples of inequality that I stumbled upon during my research was the discrimination against women in Iran to attend soccer games. It was not until April of 2006 that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran ordered, “the Ministry for Sports to allow women to attend soccer games and decreed that some of the Islamic dress codes requiring women to cover their heads and bodies should not be imposed by force.” (Hughes, 2006) The ban on women in soccer stadiums had been implemented and enforced since 1979. This ban was overturned after much protesting from women’s rights groups within Iran but also after much international pressure. Iranian women were once again the face of a political controversy in 2011 when the Iranian Women’s team was disqualified from a match by FIFA for wearing hijab 10
headscarves and tracksuits. The women’s team had been previously informed by FIFA that they would be unable to participate in the Olympic qualifier against Jordan if they wore the Islamic headscarves. FIFA released a statement saying, “Despite initial assurances that the Iranian delegation understood this, the players came out wearing thehijab, and the head and neck totally covered, which was an infringement of the laws of the game.” (Siemaszko, 2011) The ban of hijab was declared in 2007 due to the potentialchocking hazard that it could have. This situation is the perfect example of how religion can become a controversial aspect of sports. Many argue that the Iranian women wearing their headscarves and covering their skin is apart of their religion and not something to be interfered with. However, just as FIFA stated, the clothing has the abilityto be a safety hazard to the athletes. It is obvious that there are supporting elements for both sides of the argument, but can we discriminate against individuals and their religious ways just because they are apart of a sporting event. This is a question that willcontinue to resurface in athletics for years to come.
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The American, FIFA World Cup, Olympic Games, world cup, Summer Olympic Games, Winter Olympic Games