The captain of the Iranian women's football team, Niloofar Ardalan, has said that FIFA broke the hearts of the team's players when it prohibited the Iranian players from taking the field in the 2012 Olympic qualifier against Jordan.
Niloofar Ardalan (R) with midfielder Fereshteh Karimi
The Iranian players were banned in Amman, Jordan due to their Islamic dress. Jordan was awarded a 3-0 win in the second-round qualifying match, which was scheduled to be played on June 3.
FIFA's commissioner, who is from Bahrain, refused to let the Iranian team compete against Jordan with neck warmers as he believed that it was a threat to cause a choking injury.
"We are proud of our hijab. The Iranian women players will never agree to play without Islamic dress code. For the Olympic qualifier against Jordan, we took part in the six-month training camp, but we were prevented from (playing in) the match," Ardalan said.
"This is not the first time that Iranian women's football team has been in trouble. Last year, just two hours before our flight to Berlin, we were informed that we were not allowed to play against the German team, while we were fully prepared for the warm-up match," the Iranian team captain added.
"Iran has so many talented players and it's a great pity we cannot play in the international competitions. To play with hijab is hard, but we used to play with this situation. FIFA should allow the Muslim women to play, since they have the right to show their potential like the other women," Ardalan said.
Iran attacking midfielder Fereshteh Karimi also criticized the FIFA rules after football's governing prevented the players from playing in the 2012 Olympic qualifier.
"To play in the World Cup is my greatest dream, but FIFA officials broke our hearts after they didn't let us to play with hijab. Hopefully, they will allow us to play with Islamic dress, just as we took part in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore," Karimi said.
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