Footballers in Saudi Arabia were banned from a match due their Qaza hairstyles due to the country’s crackdown on “unIslamic hairstyles” in the sport.
The three players were prevent from playing in the match by Saudi Soccer Association told football clubs to “ban the Qaza phenomenon”, using the Arabic term for a small mohawk-like hairstyle popular among their athletes, according to Arabic news website Al Bawaba.
The decree, which went into effect on 7 April, bans both Saudi and foreign players from sporting the style while playing in the kingdom.
The ban is supposedly inspired by one of the teachings of the Prophet Muhamed in the hadith – his book of sayings – which forbids Qaza hairstyles, which are defined as shaving part of your head but leaving other parts unshaven.
One commentator, writing in the Saudi newspaper Al-Jazirah on Friday, urged the football federation to “impose sanctions” on players whose “bizarre haircuts are imitated by their fans in schools”.
The hairstyle was originally banned in 2009 but enforcement has been intermittent.
In 2012, a goalkeeper for Al Shabab and Saudi Arabia’s national team, Waleed Abdullah, had to have his Qaza cut off by the referee before being allowed onto the pitch during a match in the capital Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia practices a strict form of Sunni Islam – known as Wahhabism – where everyday life is strictly controlled by the kingdom’s theocratic rulers.
After several years of international pressure, Saudi Arabia only allowed women to compete in the Olympic Games in 2012.
Saudi conservatives were opposed to the move as female public participation in sport was almost unheard in the country.
Women’s freedoms are severely restricted in the kingdom. They are not allowed to drive, work or go anywhere without a male guardian’s permission. They were only recently given the right to vote.