Barcelona football star Carles Puyol lost a World Cup commentary spot on Iranian television over concerns his wild locks are “Un-Islamic” and constituted a nod towards illegal and immoral foreign culture.
The Spanish national player was booked to cover the Group B clash between Spain and Iran but he was refused entry to the IRTV 3 Tehran studio on arrival.
According to the BBC, it was initially reported in Iran that Puyol was turned away due to a disagreement over his appearance fee but the actual reason for his rejection stemmed from concerns over his non-pious long hair, as was reported locally in Iran media:
— ایران ورزشی (@IranVarzeshi) June 21, 2018
Iran has no official hairstyle policy but state TV is strictly against broadcasting anything considered unconventional or “un-Islamic” by the clergy and the conservative establishment.
For its part, the Iranian Football Federation’s code of conduct, the Charter of Ethics and Behaviour, insists that players must not sport hairstyles which help “spread foreign culture” and it was confirmed by outlet Entekhab that Puyol was denied entry “because of his looks (long hair).”
The programme’s host, Adel Ferdosipou, expressed frustration about the situation.
“You must be aware that Carles Puyol was scheduled to be with us tonight. However, he is in his hotel right now. I did everything I could but it didn’t happen. I apologise,” said Ferdosipou.
One observer went to Twitter and suggested a traditional solution as worn by women who live in the Islamic world. It involved a hijab:
— پروازیها/SHAHINAM⚡ (@parvazi_ha) June 22, 2018
The matter of hair and assumptions of “Islamic supremicism” have long had a tortured relationship.
Last December beardless men were accused of sowing confusion in pious Muslim society because clean-shaven men sometimes “cannot be distinguished from women” and can cause “indecent thoughts”, according to a Turkish Islamic preacher.
Speaking on the private religious station Fatih Medreseleri (Madrasahs) TV on Dec. 16, preacher Murat Bayaral blasted men who shave, saying they cause confusion for other men who might consider them to be feminine.
His advice consists of the simple mantra: Grow a beard and be a man.
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org