12 October 2014
The struggle for women’s rights to engage in and attend sport events has commanded increased attention with the hunger strike of a British-Iranian national incarcerated in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, the expected arrival in Saudi Arabia of Australian women fans for the Asian Champions League final, and the rare appearance of Saudi women in an all-male stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The issue of women’s rights also rose on the international sporting agenda with the withdrawal of the Qatari women’s basketball team from the recent Asian Games after they were banned from wearing headscarves. The incident underlined the fact that women’s rights also includes the right to compete with headwear that meets safety and security standards and is culturally acceptable.
In response to the withdrawal, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said it would next year ease the ban. Football paved the way for accommodating religiously observant women athletes with FIFA’s acceptance two years ago of the principle that women were allowed to wear approved headgear.
…James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Würzburg and the author of the blog,The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, and a forthcoming book with the same title.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 13/10/2014