Iranian goalkeeper fined Ksh 638,000 for hugging female fan without hijab for three seconds

Iranian goalkeeper fined Ksh 638,000 for hugging female fan without hijab for three seconds

Festus Chuma 16:08 - 24.04.2024

Iranian goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini has been fined and suspended for hugging a female fan whose hijab fell.

An Iranian footballer faces harsh penalties after a simple act of kindness during a match turned controversial. 

Hossein Hosseini, a goalkeeper for the prominent club Esteghlal, was fined approximately £3,800 (Ksh 638,000) and handed a one-game suspension after he embraced a female fan who had approached the pitchside.

The incident unfolded during a recent game when the fan, whose hijab had reportedly slipped, revealing her ponytailed hair, was accosted by security. 

Footage circulating on social media shows Hosseini intervening as he motioned for security to step back, indicating that the woman posed no threat. 

Moments later, he embraced her, a gesture that, while seemingly benign, contravened Iranian norms restricting physical contact between unrelated men and women.

Security quickly intervened, pulling Hosseini away and escorting him off the pitch amidst a growing tumult. The crowd reacted vehemently, throwing objects at the security personnel and chanting "shame on you" in support of Hosseini and the fan. 

The goalkeeper's teammates also rallied around, with one player even gifting his shirt to the fan, who joyfully waved it as she returned to her seat amongst predominantly female spectators.

This act of support has not gone unnoticed, but it brought severe repercussions for Hosseini. 

The Iranian Football Federation's disciplinary committee found his actions "unprofessional" and "beyond the legal duties of a player," leading to his fine and suspension. The federation cited no specific law that Hosseini's actions broke, other than violating Islamic precepts.

In a defiant response, Hosseini was quoted by Iranian International News stating he would accept the punishment for the sake of the lady involved, further straining his relationship with the authorities. 

Hijabs have been compulsory for women in public since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, with the law rigorously enforced. 

This incident underscores the ongoing tension in Iran regarding women's presence and attire in sports arenas, an issue FIFA has pressured the Iranian football federation about, leading to the 2019 landmark decision allowing women to attend football matches.

The controversy harks back to a darker episode in 2019 involving "The Blue Girl," Sahar Khodayari. She self-immolated after being threatened with prison for attempting to watch a game disguised as a man.

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