An internationally known Iranian goalkeeper was banned for six months from Iran’s national soccer team, the Tehran-based Persepolis Football Club, after an image surfaced of him wearing a pair of yellow “SpongeBob SquarePants” trousers, inspired by the American animated TV series of the same name.
“We took this decision because of his appearance and the impact it can have on the society,” an unnamed official with Iran’s morality committee said, according to The Guardian. On Wednesday, Iran’s ISNA News Agency deemed the attire Sosha Makani, 29, wore as “inappropriate conduct.”
The image of Makani sporting the yellow pants was first posted online on May 6:
— Tavaana توانا (@Tavaana) June 9, 2016
Morality committee of Iran football fed. bans Persian Gulf Pro League goalkeeper for 6 months over SpongeBob pantspic.twitter.com/rGzydeHXfs
— Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) June 8, 2016
This is not the first run-in Makani, who played for Iran at the 2014 World Cup, has had with the Iranian regime. He was jailed on January 4 in Iran’s infamous Evin prison after pictures surfaced of him on social media with several women who did not cover their hair with the hijab, as is required under Iranian law. He was later released on bail after it was suggested he had been engaged to the woman in the pictures:
— L.J (@Le_Crevard) January 16, 2016
The Islamic Republic of Iran has strict laws concerning the public social mingling of men and women who are unrelated or unmarried and has arrested hundreds of youth, finding them guilty of this crime, over the past few months.
The Iranian regime is fearful of Western culture infiltrating their society. Particularly with the February elections in Iran, where moderates and reformists united to take a majority of seats in Iran’s Parliament (Majles), it is likely hardliners are using authorities to crack down on youth to prevent the loss of control.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.