Follicle Challenge: Soccer Players Face Ban for ‘Unethical Hair’ in United Arab Emirates

Ghana's Asamoah Gyan smiles during a training session in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015. Ghana will play their African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ivory Coast on Sunday, Feb. 8. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
AP/Sunday Alamba

A group of 46 soccer players has been cautioned after sporting “unethical hair” as determined under United Arab Emirates Football Association (UAEFA) guidelines. Some Islamic teachings ban ‘Qaza’ hairstyles, where only part of the head is shaved, and the UAE is determined players in its leagues should follow strictly-enforced hairstyling guidelines.

The BBC reports former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan (pictured) is one of the group. He is currently on loan at the Arabian Gulf League side Al Ahli and boasts a distinctive mohawk-style cut, which is banned by the rule.

Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah was recently told by a referee to cut his ‘un-Islamic’ hair immediately before a match, according to the Independent.  Al Wahda’s Suhail Al-Mansoori is another player instructed to rethink his hair styling before returning to the field of play.

According to the BBC, individual match referees are the sole arbiters of whether players’ haircuts are appropriate and some UAE match officials enforce the rules because they are concerned about children copying the styles.

The UAEFA sends a player’s club a warning letter in the first instance, with punishments escalating to a fine and then a suspension if he does not comply.

All 46 soccer players have now received letters of caution over their chosen hair styles. The players have been told that if they don’t get a haircut before the next round of league fixtures they will be fined, and if they still don’t get a haircut before the next round of fixtures after that, they will be given a two-match ban.

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