In order to enter the playing arena with his team, the male coach of the Thailand women’s kabaddi team was forced to wear a hijab. The Thai coach wore a hijab to pretend to be a woman so he could be present during his team’s matches. In Iran, men are not allowed to enter sports venues when women athletes are in action.
Some reports said the coach was ordered to leave once, but managed to slip back in.
The Iranian Federation of Kabaddi slammed the Thai coach on Wednesday. In a statement, the Iranian federation said the incident was “unjustifiable” and that the man had “violated the rules of host country”.
A spokesman for the Iranian federation, Abuzar Markalai, told the website Jam-e Jam, that the Thai coach should “apologize for his disrespectful gesture towards women”.
The Asian Kabaddi Championship ended two days ago with India lifting the title beating Pakistan in the final.
This is not the first time the hijab rule in Iran has troubled sports and sportspersons. Last year, top India hooter Heena Sidhu had pulled out of Asian Airgun Shooting Championship in Iran due to their compulsory hijab rule for all women athletes.
“I am against women made to do a certain thing while men are not. It’s more of a man-woman thing. It should be avoided in sport. You are after all inviting sportspersons to compete in your land,” Heena said in an interview. She added that world sports bodies might take a stronger stand if more athletes protest. “It could happen if athletes object,” she said, “It’s about taking a stand on something you don’t believe in.”
A year later, not much has changed, as is evident by what the Thailand coach had to do to be with his team.
A growing number of women in Iran are now refusing to wear the mandatory headscarf, but women athletes are still required to turn up in hijabs.
Earlier this year, FIBA (The International Basketball Federation) representatives witnessed Iran’s women basketball player in action in Tehran. It was a historic event, as it is the first time, since the 1979 Revolution, that men watched a women’s sport in person in Iran.