Two Pakistan players suspended for obscene gestures; India threatens to severe all ties with PHF

Updated 14 December 2014
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Two Pakistan players suspended for obscene gestures; India threatens to severe all ties with PHF

BHUBANESWAR: Two Pakistani field hockey players were suspended and one was reprimanded for making obscene gestures after their team’s semifinal win over hosts India in the Champions Trophy semifinal, the sport’s governing body said on Sunday.
Muhammad Tousiq and reserve goalkeeper Ali Amjad were handed a one-match ban that sidelined them from the final of the eight-nation tournament against Germany.
Shafqat Rasool was reprimanded for the same offense, the International Hockey Federation announced after conducting a hearing with Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh and the players earlier in the day.
“The above-mentioned players were seen making gestures that are considered to be obscene,” the FIH said in a statement without elaborating. The body had earlier cleared Pakistan of any wrongdoing.
As the final hooter sounded in Saturday night’s 4-3 thriller, excited Pakistani players took off their shirts and made rude gestures toward Indian fans at the packed 7,000-capacity Kalinga stadium.
Shahnaz, a former international, also walked out of the post-match press conference in a huff after Indian reporters persisted in asking questions about his players’ behavior after the game.
Tournament director Wiert Doyer, who investigated the incident soon after the match, had let the players off without any action after Shahnaz apologized for their actions.
The FIH U-turn on Sunday came a few hours after Hockey India chief Narinder Batra demanded an unconditional apology from Pakistan and called for strict action by the governing body.
“I am instructing my CEO to inform FIH that in case this kind of behavior by teams is within normal and tolerable limits of FIH, then we may not be interested to host any more tournaments in India,” Batra said in a statement.
“The tournaments may be shifted to countries which tolerate this kind of nonsense and uncouth behavior.”
India are due to host the 2018 World Cup.
Batra also threatened to severe all ties with the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) unless they issued an unconditional apology.
In a separate statement released by the FIH on Sunday, Shahnaz issued a fresh apology on behalf of the PHF.
“The incident.....contained behavior that is considered unacceptable to Pakistan Hockey Federation and the entire hockey fraternity,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.
“As the result, I have spoken to my team and explained to them that they are guests in India and as hosts they have been very hospitable to the team.”
The semifinal win helped Pakistan avenge their defeat by India in the Asian Games final in South Korea in October. That loss denied them a direct entry to the 2016 Olympics.


FIFA: Iran must allow women into football games

Updated 20 September 2019

FIFA: Iran must allow women into football games

DUBAI: The ban on women attending football matches in Iran is “unacceptable” and must be lifted, the head of the sports’ world governing body said in a statement.

FIFA’s position is “clear and firm” and that women “have to be allowed” into football stadiums in the country, according to president Gianni Infantino.

Iran’s ban on women attending sports stadiums was put in place shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, despite international pressure to let them attend.

Infantino’s call comes shortly after the death of Sahar Khodayari, a female fan who set herself on fire after she was denied access to a football stadium in Tehran.

Khodayari, dubbed the “Blue Girl” because of the colors of the team she supported, Esteghlal FC, was detained and charged with “openly committing a sinful act” by “appearing in public without a hijab” after attempting to enter a stadium “dressed as a man” in March.

She died of her injuries on September 9 in a hospital after setting herself on fire outside a court earlier this month.

“I am hopeful that the Iranian Federation and the Iranian authorities were receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation,” Infantino said in a statement.

“I contacted them several times in the recent past and so has the FIFA administration. We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them.

“We understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October.”

Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar has asked the judiciary to investigate the circumstances of Khodayari’s death, although the department’s spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, has said that Khodayari “had clearly confessed her mistake during questioning, accepted it and expressed regret.”

FIFA has sent a letter to the to the Iranian Football Federation in June, requesting a timeline that would allow women to be able to buy tickets for World Cup qualifiers. Iran’s men’s national team takes on Cambodia in a World Cup qualifying game on October 10.